Brant Gaede

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Everything posted by Brant Gaede

  1. Bingo, Bob. And you know what? I think a lot of reductionists -- a lot of them I've met anyway (I have met a lot of them) known this in uneasy squirms somewhere, which is why they become so insistent even obstreperous in claiming that the answers -- re life, consciousness, volitional behavior -- in principle are known and they immediately try to decry as "mystical," "supernaturalist" anyone who says "But, but, but, you're leaving something out here." The fact is, humans exist; the human capacity for directed behavior and for attempting to understand the world exists. But if strict reductionism really were true, just how come we're here is more than a little puzzling. (Dragonfly, I expect to respond, true to form, "Not at all," but he's never said anything specific in his explanations which convinces me. Nor has any other real reductionist I know of.) My view remains not that the answer is supernatural but that there's an as yet unidentified error in the basic reductionist paradigm. Ellen ___ The error will refute reductionism? I think some people are so afraid or put off by ignorance--ignorance is loneliness of a kind--that they displace it with myth if not science. Science has to battle both myth and ignorance. Great advances in scientific understanding have often been preceded by tremendous gathering of observational data, as in astronomy. As for me, I don't know why we are here and am hardly curious. How I might leave is of some concern. --Brant PS: I don't think of myself as a "reductionist."
  2. I never had time to get around to trying to figure out what he meant. How sad a loss, his death. And his website was taken down, so there isn't even a record of what he'd written there, insofar as I know. Might there be something findable on that Wayback Machine retriever you use? Ellen ___ Go to Rebirth of Reason, click on people, click on members, go to member 1345 or Nathan Hawking, click on him, click on all his user posts. I'm not giving a link for I found out that they don't seem to work for this. As for his Website, I never went there except briefly. --Brant
  3. Michael, I read out of one of your earlier posts that you may be arguing against determinism generally, not just for human beings. Something to do with QM. On another subject you touched on, just because we may lack a certain sense organ doesn't mean we can't compensate. For the organs we do have there is only a range of perceptions. We don't see ultraviolet light. --Brant
  4. That atoms didn't exist at the time of the Big Bang doesn't mean matter came from "nothingness," just as close to nothingness as we can know. Life is out of matter, not nothingness. How life comes out of matter we don't know, not that it doesn't. --Brant
  5. Michael, Dragonfly wins this one. Maybe the only thing infinite is our ability to speculate. In science speculation has its place, for instance: setting up experiments, directing inquiry. How can we use your speculations to these effects? Writing science fiction? --Brant
  6. I don't think so. You don't have to search for "nothing" as long as there is "something," for if nothing is something then nothing is nothing. --Brant
  7. Failure is part of living. You learn from it and you toughen up. One needs to learn how to deal with adversity or you will be knocked down someday and won't know how to get up. Courage is the essential ingredient. If you learn how to deal with the small things that go bad the big ones will be easier. Integrity goes hand in hand with all this--doing the right thing. You also need to honor your optimism, embrace it; it's part of you. --Brant
  8. "Why is there anything?" Because there isn't any nothing. :aww: --Brant
  9. The problem I have with Huemer's essay is not that he starts by giving his overview of Rand's position(s), but that he then analyzes his analysis thus refuting her! Later on he gives exact quotes, piece by piece. I don't have time for this, nor for others' analyses of the analysis and then analyses of the analyses. What is needed is a better written essay with longer quotes. Best would be a better ethics to displace her claims. All I've seen so far in the little reading on this thread I've done is attempts at displacement from her critics. For the record, she wrote her ethics for her fictional characters and imaginary people. If you want to really critique her start by referring to real people--people as they are, not just what they "might be and should be." Otherwise you won't get there from here, which was Rand's basic problem, frankly. I guess she couldn't face the fact that there is no John Galt there, however, just pretension, her own and other's. Another way to put it is "wishful thinking." Galt has no potential for evil. He grew up never telling a lie or doing something he ought not to have done. He is as innocent as the day he was born. To be like Galt is to be as human as a moral sledgehammer and a complete, phoney, bore. I think Francisco should have beat the shit out of Galt after finding out he was after his woman ("So that's why you wanted me to go on strike!"). People first (data) then philosophy. Rand mostly got it backwards. So too, most Objectivists. No Objectivist Ethics can be objective, otherwise. People, you can have these endless discussions going nowhere. --Brant Brant, To my understanding, Rand wrote a non-fictional treatise on ethics in The Virtue of Selfishness called “The Objectivist ethics.” In any event, she first thought a great deal about the question of ethics and then created characters that embodied those principles. -Victor You are correct. (Could you please edit out that smilely face in your quote of me? I did and my edit crossed your post. Thanks.) --Brant
  10. The problem I have with Huemer's essay is not that he starts by giving his overview of Rand's position(s), but that he then analyzes his analysis thus refuting her! Later on he gives exact quotes, piece by piece. I don't have time for this, nor for others' analyses of the analysis and then analyses of the analyses. What is needed is a better written essay with longer quotes. Best would be a better ethics to displace her claims. All I've seen so far in the little reading on this thread I've done is attempts at displacement from her critics. For the record, she wrote her ethics for her fictional characters and imaginary people. If you want to really critique her start by referring to real people--people as they are, not just what they "might be and should be." Otherwise you won't get there from here, which was Rand's basic problem, frankly. I guess she couldn't face the fact that there is no John Galt there, however, just pretension, her own and other's. Another way to put it is "wishful thinking." Galt has no potential for evil. He grew up never telling a lie or doing something he ought not to have done. He is as innocent as the day he was born. To be like Galt is to be as human as a moral sledgehammer and a complete, phoney, bore. I think Francisco should have beat the shit out of Galt after finding out he was after his woman ("So that's why you wanted me to go on strike!" ). People first (data) then philosophy. Rand mostly got it backwards. So too, most Objectivists. No Objectivist Ethics can be objective, otherwise. People, you can have these endless discussions going nowhere. --Brant
  11. I might have missed that while that is the usual argument I hear (beginning with Rand herself). I must have underestimated you, so at least you're making progress! But alas, the argument is still invalid. Why should it be a problem for the parasite if he can't use his parasitic lifestyle when he'd be stranded alone on a desert island? First, the situation is extremely unlikely (even more unlikely than the classical lifeboat situation), but even apart from that, what does it matter? He's just flexible and can adapt to the circumstances, from an evolutionary point of view a good strategy. Why should he always act in the same way, regardless of the circumstances? That is a dogma which does not follow from the facts. It's ok, it's ok... I know how difficult this must be for you, just bite the bullet and at the end everything will be all right and you'll feel relieved! Well, in "Atlas" the parasites either go belly up or insane. Aren't we the living living in the world of "Atlas"? --Brant
  12. Mr. H.: I found your analysis ignorant and offensive. It's just not quite as bad as I originally thought. --Brant
  13. You are giving no credit for a person's ability to compartmentalize--to be rational in one area and irrational in another. Much of what you are saying seems to be long on logical inertia and short on empirical data. --Brant
  14. Logically valid reasoning is how you're supposed to get to the "ought", yeah, if that's what you mean. But not apropos anything said so far critiquing Rand? --Brant
  15. Individual exceptions? You think war, murder, rape, aggression, stealing, fraud, parasitism are exceptions? I think you have a heavily biased view, while you live in a prosperous western country, probably in a good neighborhood, where such things may seem to be exceptions (but even there they may be not as rare as you might think). You probably don't realize how privileged you are in fact. There are many places on earth were you'd get quite a different impression, and neither is the historical record very sunny to put it mildly. There is ample evidence that man's nature is that of a nasty, bloodthirsty brute, and that our western civilization of recent years only partly can hide that under a thin veneer of civilization. Where did you buy those rose-colored glasses? Now it's bedtime for me. Hey, I'm a nice guy! --Brant
  16. I disagree. Why can't a parasite be rational? As I said in an earlier post, rationality does not refer to what your goal is, but to how you try to realize that goal. If his goal is comfortable survival as a parasite he may very well succeed in reaching that goal, and there is nothing irrational in that. That is one of the bad points of Rand's legacy: to designate every behavior she didn't approve of as irrational. It can also lead to underestimating your opponents, as they may be much more rational in the usual sense than you might think on the basis of their so-called "irrationality". In Atlas Shrugged the bad guys may all crumble when they are confronted with their own irrationality, in real life things are rather different, evil isn't as impotent as Rand may suggest. Not agreeing or disagreeing with you here, but it is interesting to note that "The impotence of evil" is absolutely central to Ayn Rand's work in philosophy and fiction. It is her "Big Idea." --Brant
  17. She can play them as they would have been if they had lived longer. --Brant
  18. This is so vague that it is meaningless as an ethical principle. What is man's "nature"? Murder, aggression, rape, parasitism are all part of man's nature, but somehow these are not popular among Objectivists (not that I blame them for that). And what is his "inherent potential"? Hitler and Stalin were also quite good in fulfilling their inherent potential, so that can hardly be a satisfying criterion. So it's time for the magic switch from "man qua existence" to "man qua man", but that is a subjective choice, which cannot be derived just from man's nature. In examining "man's nature" it might be helpful to refer to the definition of man as "the rational animal." If he is "rational" one can make a chain of reasoning with that ending up, in one case, with productive work, which is not parasitism or tyranny. One doesn't end up as a destructive psychotic, generally speaking, if one is engaging in such work so there seems to be a natural congruence with that and psychological well being because one is honoring "man's nature"--his proper nature re thriving--in respect to oneself. Etc. --Brant
  19. I'm not saying that "oughts" can't be useful, I'm only refuting the claim that you can prove them scientifically. Where do they come from? I think a lot can be explained by evolutionary psychology, some strategies work better than other ones, and they may evolve in the course of time, fashions come and go. But the result is not unequivocal, different people may arrive at different "oughts", and it's therefore an illusion that we can convince every rational person to adopt our "oughts", merely by some logical argument. For example, there will always be socialists (be it under a different name) and criminals. We can only try to persuade as many people to adopt our viewpoint in this. I agree with your first sentence. I am not prepared now to comment on the rest. But is your philosophy "scientificism?" Pragmatism? (?) --Brant
  20. That is no proof. The question is: how do you know what your rational self-interest is? Presupposing the answer is no proof. The clearest example is Rand's surreptitious switch from "life qua existence" to "life of man qua man". The first refers only to life as such, survival as a living being, and Rand's argument is that man's ultimate value is his life. But then her argument fails, because someone who lives as a parasite or as a criminal can be very succesful in prolonging his life, and sometimes a quite comfortable life as well. Obviously this is not what Rand wants to prove, so now she suddenly switches from "life qua existence" to "life of man qua man" (read: life according to the Objectivist ideal). But that is just putting the desired answer into the argument which constitutes no proof at all, so the whole argument breaks down. The problem is that many people like Rand's answers so much that they blindly believe her claim that she can prove them, but that is an illusion. You cannot prove an "ought" from an "is". Perhaps you can't "prove" it, but you sure can get it. Where else would one get an "ought" from? And if there ought not be oughts there ought not be philosophy and morality. (?) --Brant
  21. John, I quoted Victor. It is pretty easy to figure out what I was talking about. I actually like him quite a bit, except when he issues his scorched-earth ecumenisms on art. I find them intolerable and in this case insulting in just the way I said and I will not let such be sanctioned by letting them pass without comment. I am not so much interested in art this and that, but the issue is epistemological. When I see philosophy coming at me like a boxer's knockout punch, I know something's wrong and I will protect myself. And I will not concede the field to him by blocking his posts. --Brant
  22. John, I await for your remarks on this subject--here or elsewhere. The charlatans of the modern art tout that those who can't see the merit of modern art are "philistines", "crude", or "dense". I have experienced this time and again for the last fifteen years, and I have experienced here. Nothing changes but the people. This kind of harrying coerces a lot of people into setting aside their own honest judgment for parroting the positions they have been told “sophisticated” people take. In the effort to appear “open-minded” and as non-philistines--they actually become philistines! They accept the creed that anything goes. They mutter over cocktails, "I like just about everything"--which means they don't have a deeply artistic experience with anything. It is all a pose. They wish to appear "sophisticated"---which is second-hand to the core. They are like whores who sleep with anyone, but are close to nobody. There are no standards for excellence or craft—or artistry. As if it's all equal and disposable—a big subjectivist emoting throwaway frill. I value art too much to ever have that...um..."open-mind." -Victor Victor, what you are really doing here is insulting absolutely everybody who doesn't absolutely agree with everything you have to say on this subject. --Brant
  23. Brant Gaede

    Wagner

    I agree that that's how Rand would have seen it; but I strongly disagree that that way of seeing it is accurate. This links to the kind of objections I've been making on several threads to Rand's theories of aesthetics. It simply is not the case that one's responses in literature, or any other art form, so thoroughly map to one's essential being (and "metaphysical" view of existence) that for one person to respond to an artist whose work another dislikes is equivalent to being out of gear in a fundamental way with that other person, even in a case where the other person is herself an artist with exceedingly strong aesthetic preferences. An example from music. Stravinsky and Richard Strauss hated each other's music. And not hard to "hear" why, I think; very different approaches. I like both of their work, and I think each of them would have been wrong, had I known both of them and had they known I liked both of their work, to feel that I was rejecting all that each, respectively, was. In Rand's case, I think she caused untold grief and pain, to herself and to everyone around her, with her need to have her associates be convinced that their aesthetic responses should be what hers were. It's true that she'd have felt threatened, betrayed by Barbara's loving both Thomas Wolfe and her, AR's, writing. But this was Rand's mistake, not in fact an indication of contradictions in Barbara's psyche. Ellen ___ I agree. I was only writing from what I imagined Rand's perspective would have been, for I've never heard of Barbara, for instance, being put off by Rand's style of writing. --Brant
  24. Brant Gaede

    Wagner

    I can already see that I'll need to read the man very slowly or I'll never really experience the contexts he is writing out of. I can also see why Rand could be so antagonistic to Wolfe, because to embrace him is to reject her--that is, her way of writing and seeing things. It is one thing to like Wagner for Rand wasn't a composer, but to be passionate about Wolfe? Everything AR was devolved into her writing and how she wrote. --Brant