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  1. I'll not post further at this site, and I suggest the same to Merlin.
  2. Tony, come on. Wake up. If participants can't remember three months back, even when it is written and retrievable for them, what is the point of these "communications"? Merlin Jetton wrote on 9/27/20:
  3. "One if by land, two if by sea, three if by Delta shuttle from LaGuardia" That was a light moment of his term in office. The main things serious were two: In April 2017, President Trump should have sent the budget bill back to Ryan and said cut everything proportionally as is so as to make expenditure match expected revenues. That would have been of historic significance and a plus. Secondly, Mr. Trump appointed more anti-abortionist Justices to the Supreme Court, moving along the long Republican struggle of ending legality of elective abortions (first trimester) in the US. Those successful appointments may have a good effect in the future, I hope, in clipping Eminent Domain cases back to a more reasonable concordance of "public use" with that language in the Constitution. One smaller thing I liked was the easing of governmental restrictions on methane emissions. The shift in modern times from common defense against foreign attack to common defense against every sort of physical harm (even a global harm alleged in this case) needs bounding by rational principles, expressly formulated (don't recall seeing any from any quarter). Environmentalism seems to be tops for many Democrats today, even more than "income inequality" (anemic descendant of the old concern for the impoverished). Plenty of solid reasons to oppose Democrats by and large. My older sister voted for Trump/Pence both times. But she is disgusted with Mr. Trump's behavior vis-a-vis the 2020 election results, and she has at last stopped watching television news altogether. (This household quit that altogether a couple of years ago.) She does not have a computer, so I still make hardcopy photo prints for her. The first election she recalls was between Dewey and Truman. She favored Dewey because he had a mustache (she was only eight and was a fan of Clark Gable). My younger sister was an avid fan of Donald Trump as President. She died last January. There is a gallows-humor sort of thing about what one did not live to see. My brother died in 2001, but before having to witness the atrocity in New York.
  4. Guyau

    Love Songs

    12 December 2020 Romeo et Juliette - First Transports Hector Berlioz / Emile Deschamps Marianne Crebassa First transports that no one forgets! First confessions, first oaths Of two lovers Under the stars of Italy; In this hot air and without zephyrs Let the orange tree in the distance perfume Where is burning The nightingale in long sighs! What art in his chosen language, Would you make heavenly things? First love, are not you Higher than any poetry? Or would you not, in our mortal exile, This poetry itself, Whose Shakespeare alone had the supreme secret And he won in the sky! Happy children with hearts of flame, Linked by love by chance In one look, Living both of one soul, Hide the good under the blooming shade, This divine fire that sets you on fire, So pure ecstasy May his words be weeping! What a king of your chaste delusions Would it believe to equal transport? Happy children! and what treasures Would you pay only one of your smiles? Ah! enjoy this cup of honey for a long time, Softer than the chalices Where the angels of God, jealous of your delights, Blow happiness in the sky!
  5. mmp, Would you rate memory of the observation that I've begun this sentence as true as the observation of its completion? That memory over t1 to t2 as true as the observation at t2? I'd say yes, and various competencies of memory, including semantic memory, are involved in the observation that one is writing a sentence or that one has read a complete sentence. Observation engaged in our everyday reasoned maneuvers, such as getting to the coffee maker, is not so simple as old philosophers cracked it up to be. Scientific observation is even more elaborate and embedded in more elaborate reason. One wonderful book I can recommend up this alley is Harold I. Brown's Observation and Objectivity (Oxford 1987). You might like to consider also in what ways, if any, scientific observations are more true than a theory presumed substantively true (at least partially and substantively) where that theory predicted the new observation (or invention). Might theory T, being partially true (where the bounds of the partial truth are discerned ever-better by subsequent encompassing theories) be as true as the scientific observation O that T predicts. (This is not like the two Greek astronomers having competing mechanical [alternate kinematics of imagined alternate machines in the sky] explanations for observed paths of planets [as observed from earth] that later turned out to be indifferently both true because the differences in the models turned out to be superfluous.) An example would be the discovery of Neptune. The planet was found using a telescope (notice, they depend on our theory of optics) to see it (observe it) motivated by observational records showing that the orbit of Uranus deviated from the Newtonian theory of what its path would be given the then-known gravitating sources that would be exerting attraction on Uranus. The Newton theory---the law of gravity given in that theory---would seem as much true for Uranus as the confirming observation of the existence of Neptune, even if it is only part of the truth of gravity, as later shown by general relativity and its observational confirmations of its (perhaps only partial, but less partial) truth. Substantive partial truth is substantive truth, I'd say, and such truths of theory have made this medium of communication from dirt.
  6. D, I doubt Rand would make any distinction between universe and nature in this context. In her published writing, the idea is expressed most strongly in Atlas in remarks of Ragnar to Dagny in Atlantis, and there her term for the realm is earth. In that work she speaks also of “the man who belonged on earth”, and that sense about the fundamental human condition is at hand as well for Roark of Fountainhead and for the protagonist of Anthem. The chapter I mentioned above in the Blackwell volume mentions the idea of benevolence being a thing about the world, our world, as some theologians and as Isabell Patterson would see it, on account of the oversight of the cosmic consciousness that is God. Patterson and Rand exchanged views on this, and Patterson could not imagine how an atheist could see man as situated in a benevolent world. Somewhat before reading any Rand, while I as a young man, I became an atheist. It felt so clean and honest. It felt also like the end of an always love affair. But there was something else. I felt this enormous benevolence towards all human kind. I think that was because then I knew there was no one with grand oversight and power watching over them. They were on their own, as I’d come to see the cosmos was on its own. Yet I didn’t feel we didn’t fit on earth or that nature without God was a malevolent thing. I myself have never had any use for the notion of “cruel nature.” I do always remember that, as I put it to my friends, “nature is a giant.” I say that when 300,000 people are wiped out by a tidal wave or 100,000 people are wiped out by an earthquake, and so forth. And on the individual level, loved ones have died of various things in my life, as in everyone’s life—from my next-door-neighbor cousin a year younger than I who was killed in Vietnam to my first life partner who died in my arms of disease when we were both 41—yet “cruel nature” has been without meaning to me. (There is something else, related in some opaque way, I think, which my partner of the last 25 years and I have in common: we’ve never had that thought people say “why me?” when we have been near death or had painful condition or a bad limitation.) Death just seems natural for us, and a thing to plan for and ever-expect, natural and normal even though we humans are such a remarkable animal, the crowning glory of life on earth. Well, one more thing. I don’t really care about life off the earth except as curiosity. I expect the human species to live on beyond me and to eventually die out here on earth, the only abode it will have ever really had (die off due to nuclear wars, sooner or later or later). Each morning I rise about 4, and as I make my way past eastern windows on the way to the coffee machine, I say to myself words from the Rig Veda: “so many days have not yet broken”. I give it the meaning “what will I yet create, and too, what will mankind yet create?” We fit here, the more rational, the better.
  7. “. . . that one has forgotten how the concept of ‘the arbitrary’ was originated. An arbitrary idea is one accepted by chance, caprice, or whim. It stands in contradistinction to an idea accepted for logical reasons, from which it is intended to be distinguished. The existence of such a concept as an ‘arbitrary idea’ is made possible only by the existence of logically necessary ideas. The former is not a primary.” (73) Also in that same Branden lecture: “Any human statement and any claim to knowledge must refer to something that exists or be derived from something that exists or be based on something that exists. An arbitrary statement based on nothing can be said to exist only in the sense that it is a series of sounds uttered by a human being. As far as its content is concerned, it refers, epistemologically speaking, to nothing” (77) (These are from transcriptions of lectures in the 1960’s titled Basic Principles of Objectivism, in the book The Vision of Ayn Rand.)
  8. Intrinsicist has some good points about “the benevolent universe premise” in Rand’s philosophy. And there are good points upstream in this thread. Additionally, I’d add that Rand rejected the idea of Schopenhauer that will to life is a bondage to ultimate pointless striving and a striving whose main theme is suffering. She rejected his view that the attainments of intellect are occasions of freedom from that bondage. (Her opposition to the metaphysical pessimism of Schopenhauer and his followers extends also to opposition of Existentialism, which was contemporary with her own life.) In diametrical opposition, she saw intellect, will, and productivity as cohorts of human life. Life is its own justification and meaning, and is indeed the only realm in which such things as purpose, meaningful action, and justification reside. Intrincist, I don’t think an argument for the eternity of existence in general can be transplanted to support eternity of life in the universe, neither individual life nor life of a particular species nor life per se. There are the familiar traditions of thinking of the human soul as a living sort of thing and as immortal in that living existence, death of the body notwithstanding. The line of rational argument for this has been to gather together ways in which the nature of the embodied soul differs radically from material existents (animate or inanimate matter and fields) and from those contrast-features proceed to the inference that the soul is of a radically different nature from other pieces of existence and cannot pass out of existence. For my own part, I take individual life and species life to be sorts of existence that lose existence, in the sense of living existence, full stop, at death. And this general setting is no general excuse for life-long despair, but in general for striving, having projects, and loving. It would be good to note for this thread that in the final chapter of A Companion to Ayn Rand, the authors look at some of the passages of Rand’s that express the benevolent universe premise, “offer an explicit characterization of it, indicate the history of Rand’s use of the relevant terminology, and show how it depends on fundamentals of Objectivism.”
  9. Brant, do you know when Barbara Branden made that remark? Do you know what year was the refusal to which she was referring? In the book Ayn Rand and the World She Made (2010), the author Anne Heller implies that after grad school (1964), Hook did give Peikoff a recommendation(s) for academic teaching position. Heller writes that Peikoff lost his teaching positions at Hunter, New York University, and Brooklyn and damaged his future prospects because “he couldn’t resist trying to ‘convert’ his students to Rand’s ideas, in spite of warnings.” She reports that in 1987 Hook received a letter from Peikoff’s second wife Cynthia pleading for help in getting her husband a post in which he could exercise “his talent and passion for teaching.” Cynthia wrote that her husband had applied to over 300 colleges for a position, had been given three interviews, and had been “explicitly rejected for his views.” Heller saw that letter and Hook’s reply in the files for him at Stanford. I imagine both reasons have been in play, but especially "his views." The professionals having sympathies with some of the Objectivist philosophy—Walsh, Hospers, Rasmussen, Machan, Long, Huemer—would sensibly be seen as professing some other philosophies in which they were expert and only somewhat overlapping a bit in their own positions characteristic thought of Ayn Rand. The cases of Gotthelf and Lennox are special in that they were known to be in considerable synch with Rand, their primary areas of expertise were in other areas, very suitable ones for academia, and they were each top scholars, world-renowned in those primary areas. The generation of Objectivist Ph.D. philosophers (mentored by those two) have not been successful in finding lasting university positions. Partly that may be due to the oversupply of tremendously qualified new Ph.D.’s in general in comparison to positions available. But I’m pretty sure that it is also because these younger scholars are known to be of the Objectivist persuasion pretty closely. So notwithstanding their other area of expertise, such as in parts of Aristotle or Plato, and notwithstanding their having dissertation advisors who are tops in those areas, they cannot find a permanent position in a philosophy department. (An exception would be Stephen Hicks who has had a full career at Rockford College as the sole- or co-member of the Department, which last I heard is being eliminated.) At my first university, there was a philosophy chair funded by some division of the Catholic Church, and I’m pretty sure that without that special backing, we would not have had the Thomist philosopher who was my first philosophy professor, despite his extraordinary preparation at Cologne. I think that sort of special backing would be required for these younger Objectivist Ph.D.’s to find a steady position at a university--I gather that's the situation for Tara Smith. Between you and me and the fence post, I think academia naturally came into a uniformity of barring these younger Objectivist philosophers from their ranks, and this on account of (i) the circumstance that Rand was an amateur philosopher whose philosophy, though a systematic one taking up enduring issues, was not highly developed (cf. Aquinas, Hegel, Whitehead), at least beyond its ethical theory, and developed in a way seriously engaging contemporary work in academia, (ii) Rand putting forth egoism in ethics and capitalism in politics (and the latter at a level of argument not having the tools of an exceptional academic like Nozick), and (iii) revulsion over aiding advancement in development and making academically respectable Rand’s philosophy outweighing attractiveness of the expertise of these scholars in other areas and in teaching. To Cynthia, Hook replied (1987), “not unkindly, that before recommending his former student for another teaching job, he would have to be satisfied that Peikoff would not inject, where inappropriate, Randian dogma into classroom instruction. ‘I made that a condition before giving him a couple of classes to teach at NYU many years ago’, Hook wrote. ‘He didn’t live up to the condition . . . I still recommended him in hopes he would mature and try to follow the pedagogic model to which he had been exposed in my classes . . . .” I’m just reading this in Heller via Google Books, and it does not show the next page. Brant, do you think what Barbara Branden remarked was consistent with all this? Was it this 1987 exchange of letters she was referring to? Or was it that she meant Hook refused recommendation of Peikoff upon completion of the Ph.D. (1964), which is evidently incorrect? I’ve had some marvelous professors, including ones in philosophy. I attend terrific paper presentations and book discussions at meetings of the American Philosophical Association. What is essential for me, for my mental reaches, however, is what they write. Peikoff had press outlets in his life, and if overwhelmingly his works were pitched to an intermediate level, not to the academy, I’m sure he’s had some satisfaction in some who’ve given his works some serious attention and gotten some comprehension. And his dissertation won some absorption and appreciation in recent years and likely a while beyond his own life (by an inveterate scholar outside the academy —A, B).
  10. The Common Good - Irfan
  11. Finding how and why the cells are hexagonal A song about it
  12. Guyau

    My Verses

    This link to The Song has surrounding status of the new philosophy to be unveiled, likely this summer.