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AndrewED last won the day on January 18 2019

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About AndrewED

  • Birthday 07/06/1971

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    Andrew Durham

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  1. For me, the basic issue is metaphysical: Do we live in a benevolent universe or not? If so, then evil and corruption must be made. It doesn't just happen. Then some questions arise. Who is capable of evil on the scale we are witnessing, a lot of it made possible by 9/11? Who has benefited? 9/11 investigator David Ray Griffin points out that virtually everyone in this conversation is a conspiracist. The difference is, which conspiracy theory is accepted? The official one, or an unofficial one? Then the question is, which theory accords with the evidence better? Here is Niels Harrit, a Danish Professor Emeritus of Chemistry whom I saw in Sweden, answering this question directly as a scientist: Lastly, which conspiracists say, "Believe us, do not question our explanation," and which say, "See for yourself"?See for yourself.
  2. Actually, I think Objectivism was infiltrated by Cointelpro (counterintelligence program of FBI) a long time ago (Peter Schwartz has the perfect attitude of an asset.) They recognized Objectivism as a radical movement far better than Objectivists did, and certainly without naivete about the benevolence of the US Gov't. The pattern of schisms was very easy to amplify. Given his ties to the Mossad, Yaron Brook is likely an asset, too.
  3. (post deleted, added to previous post)
  4. Hi, John, Thanks very much for your comments. I haven't visited here for a long time, but I hope you'll consider my response better late than never. This will be quite long as I'm replying here to all four of your posts from last year. Re: John's First Post: Yeah, that's what I'm getting at. It is really a matter of just taking what I could get in the way of a distinguishing characteristic. Since I could find nothing else in the entry, I used the etymology. I thought, "Oh, it's not everything but a part of everything that's meant here." Also, "to stand out" was the original meaning of the word, existence. And when I began looking at things like this consciously, I began to see that I had always looked at things this way. Further, it became apparent just about everyone else was, too, including Ayn Rand and a lot of the philosophers she both agreed with and disagreed with. Ayn Rand, herself, constantly asserted, through her characters and her non-fiction alike, that people use words exactly the way she was using them, without necessarily knowing, understanding, or being willing to admit it. It was an objectivity of language, deriving from the structure of the conceptual faculty, that even Ellsworth Toohey used, in scene after scene in The Fountainhead, against heroes, and with fellow villains, half-way characters (such as Peter Keating and Alvah Scarret), as well as the readers of the Banner. I would only ask that you see for yourself. If you adopt this as a hypothesis for awhile, I believe you will come to see what I am seeing, too. I think it only affected me so drastically because of my own problem of relying too heavily on the verbal part of my intelligence. Other, more balanced personalities can shrug off some of the more noticeable negative affects of equating existence with being. I could not. So if I'm neurotic, I may also be a canary in a coal mine. Further, I have observed that things stay with people and with a culture essentially in their original form for a long time. The reason we still have these two words is not primarily because we are bored and need synonyms with which to fill our terms papers (though two words are better than one for this). But because they still fulfill a deep need of the psyche to distinguish certain facts from each other. And here, we have the single most important fact of anyone's life. If we split hairs about anything, if we spend time clarifying any single idea, I think this should be this one. This is not a time for casual usage or conflation, but the most rigorous, exacting logic. I think I see what you mean. Reading it again now, I came across a small break in my argument which could undermine it. Right after the paragraph in which I present the etymology of the word, existence, I wrote: .It may not be perfectly clear that, in my usage, the distinguishing characteristic of "standing out" is merely an addition to the meanings in the dictionary's entry, not a replacement. Let me try to make this clear. I wrote, "To exist is to stand out". We could stretch this out a bit to, "For something to exist is for it to stand out". We're talking about something--a being--which stands out. This something is what the two dictionary entries share. But to use your example below, it is not merely an automobile that is a car, but an automobile that is a sedan. That is, it is not merely a synonym, but a further distinction, a narrowing of the idea which calls for--and gets--a different word. Likewise, in the next sentence, "Existence is that which stands out," do not overlook the word, that, and all it refers to. We could change the sentence to, "Existence is everything which stands out," or "Existence is being which stands out." I mean that, in this sentence, "that" refers to everything shared in common by the entries, and "which stands out" refers to the distinguishing characteristic of the word, existence. Thanks again for the comment. I'll think about how I might make this clearer in the essay. In the meantime, does what I've just written make any difference to you? Or is it still equivocal? Re: John's Second Post Not necessarily. What is undiscovered and what stands back are two different things. They may or may not overlap. As you say, I make the concept of being stand out. But I don't make being itself stand out. Further, I'm not talking about an existent that stands out from other existents, eg, one which is the object of someone's focus. This is a more common usage of the phrase, stand out. I'm talking about existence's standing out from whatever stands back. At that, can you feel how the whole thing becomes quite mysterious? I think it is because we've approached the edge of a cosmological discussion we, as philosophers, don't need to have. Re: John's Third Post Thank you, thank you, thank you. This is exactly the kind of cosmology--the use of scientific arguments in philosophical discussions--which, in my essay, I attribute to the placement of the divisive word, existence, at the root of one's philosophy. In defending existence as an axiomatic concept, you were eventually compelled to use a scientific argument. This, I submit, is the beginning of all schisms in Objectivism. Hmm. So since I'm fascinated with etymology, I'm silly? And if I look closely at something, I'm myopic and it won't do me any good, even though I said as simply and sincerely as I could that it did me a lot of good? That's my impression of this comment. I think this represents further proof of my previous point about Objectivist schisms. Etymology is not merely a dalliance of the historically curious. Even in the pocket dictionaries designed and written for compactness will you find it. Why? Apparently for the same reason everything else in a dictionary is included: to enhance one's understanding of the word. I'm afraid your argument completely breaks down at this point, John. I suppose I'll think for awhile about what that might mean to me. I learned a great deal from meditating on the initially baffling comments of people here two years ago. So I will do the same with yours. Probably it is related to the still proclaiming, strident, stiff, and/or combative tone of the essay. I hope one day to get off it. In the meantime, thanks again. Andrew
  5. Sometimes I think Peter Schwartz was recruited by cointelpro to help neutralize what little threat Objectivism could have represented. I say help because it never needed much help in sabotaging itself. That's a sad picture of Peikoff, Michael. In a way, he is Rand's heir: I sometimes think of Barbara's comment on Ayn Rand, that she partly spent her life waiting for recognition from elders, in the way that Catherine the Great was recognized by a seer who once came to court. When von Mises called her the bravest man he had ever met, that was a high point. But she received no spiritual recognition, it seems.
  6. Hi, Ba'al, Point well taken. Since you seem to know something about the Stoics, I'm wondering what you think about Ted's presentation of the Stoic's ontology? Do you think, as Ted does, that they were wrestling with the same basic issue as is in my essay: which word really qualifies as the first axiomatic concept of philosophy?
  7. Brant, On the other hand, I gather you are saying that, with my essay, I have left you swimming in a sea of words. Honestly, at first, I was inclined to take offense. But then I went and read the humor section where tndbay's limericks lightened me up. Now I'm back to say, YES YES YES. Apparently, you're feeling lost at sea, maybe woozy. That's really good. That means that, on some level, what I said connected with you. Many times my foundations have been rocked by my seeing, often with another's help, a major error of mine or by my suddenly noticing big chunks of something I didn't even know was there. I have felt nauseous. Or floating, lost in space. Maybe the person turned out to be wrong, but in the meantime I was wandering far from shore Sometimes I dismissed it, as you seem to have; sometimes I checked in on it occasionally; sometimes I stayed up nights with it till getting it. Whatever. The point is the torpedo found its mark. Now what will you do? Because I don't buy your implication that your state of being is caused by my writing,. With regard to your criticism, I think my piece is faultless, and nothing you have said has changed my mind. Andrew
  8. Hi, Brant, Thanks for your bracing reminder. Yes, Ayn Rand was magnificent--and magnificently clear. She saved my life, no doubt about it, and I will eternally love and revere her for that and for the greatness of her being and achievement. Andrew
  9. Hi, everyone. I have been gone a long time--since October. It's nice to be back. Thanks to Michael for letting me make a couple small changes to the essay after it had been locked--just the removal of a weak paragraph and the strengthening of a point, both at the beginning. Besides clearing up an important issue for me, something great happened because of this essay. An estranged friend, with whom I studied Ayn Rand in the early 90's, read the essay and got back in touch with me. We cleared the air, and I got to see him again over Christmas. Thanks to everyone who participated here. He also made a striking observation. He said that the word, being, has exactly the same problem with it that I observed in the word, existence. That is, the word, being, specifies too much to be the "biggest" possible word in the language. In fact, I mention the grounds for this accusation in the essay. The problem is that to be, partly means "to live, to grow." Etymologically, it implies that what is is alive. Now I know that etymology is not everything. But it is something. And my same analysis, which looks to etymology for further clues as to the difference between existence and being--because their definitions are otherwise so similar--applies to being. He said that the Hindus use the Sanskrit equivalent of the word, being, at the base of their metaphysics, because they wanted to project, to invoke a universe as a living thing. I've studied some Hinduism, and I had to concur. But just as I have written that what is is more than what stands out--what exists--so, he said, that "what is" is more than what lives (I'm speaking here what lives in a subtle sort of way, like moments when the whole universe does seem alive). So once again, we may have been bitten in the butt by semi-hidden meanings lying buried in our blithely used vocabulary. I asked, well, what else is there? What word would be bigger? Did you look? Did you find one? Being the thoroughgoing type, skilled with dictionaries and so forth (we were both dictionary fiends from the beginning), he said, Of course. Further, he said he tracked down every possible word and only one really fit the bill: All. All says nothing whatsover about the particular (physical or metaphorical) nature of the universe, about reality. It just radically and implicitly includes in the concept everything one might find--all of it. I said, okay, but we still lack a verb. We still only have the verb, to be. Which was one reason my formulation was so neat. This is where it got personal. He said, YOU are the verb. In your organic response to it, you marry it and express it through your being. For a moment I got it, and then it was gone. Many of my own ideas I had to be in very clear states to have, and even to re-apprehend later. This is one of those kinds of ideas. It will take me a long time to sink into it enough to understand, to feel, to sense it. This is what my friend and I do with each other's findings. It is a long slow conversation that proceeds largely in silence.. In the meantime, all I have is a pro hominem argument for it in my friend's profound happiness, his deeply changed and unaffected calm. I understand if this sounds like mystical nonsense to some of you. But does anyone here relate?
  10. While ontology should not become a never-never-land of celestial speculation about "angels dancing on the heads of pins," it is not disposable... Good heavens, I did not mean that ontology or metaphysics are disposable. I meant that the concepts, existence and non-existence, are. If anything, my whole essay is a testament to the ultimate power of this science, far greater (and potentially destructive) than, for example, nuclear physics. Thus, the need for precision with concepts when discussing it.
  11. So much for the rights of man Here, unfortunately, we encounter yet another public intellectual's proud denial and not-so-subtle apology for the cold-blooded genocide of at least of ten million ("far fewer") non-civilized and non-industrialized peoples of the present-day USA. He justifies the American Holocaust of the 19th and 20th centuries because these people lived a "simple, animal-like existence". They did not live "true lives". This is precisely the kind of dehumanizing prose Goebbels would approve, Mr Hudgins. I am sorry to read here the product of your unexamined ignorance and bigotry. Anyone who has given even a small degree of sincere attention to the lives and teachings of American Indian elders knows your statement is false--laughably and embarrassingly so. What has prevented you from doing even cursory research in the wealth of widely available books available on every aspect of this subject from hundreds of native and non-native historians alike? My good man, you are behind the times, and you have no excuse for being so. Those who have ears to hear will well mark the words of the Navajo, who say: "We are endurers. We are watchers. We were here before you came. We have watched you since then. And we will be here to tell your story once you have gone."
  12. Hi, Nick, thanks for the story. I think life in American public school bears many striking resemblances to what I read about life in an attic hiding from Nazis. I find remarkable the cheerfulness of anyone in any such intensely oppressive situation. I learned the other day from a colleague that school shootings are happening in the US nearly every day now. Is it really any wonder?
  13. The highest comedy I have ever read anywhere is in The Fountainhead in Dominique's first interview with Gale Wynand. My laughter becomes so intense it loses its sound. It's like my whole being is laughing, resonating with the infinite mirth of the entire universe. Once I saw a stand up comic in LA at the Comedy Store. He was this innocent, gentle, quirky recluse-genius. His act was so brilliant, so funny, that I laughed past the point of needing to laugh. He transported us to this same realm of pure mirth, to the point of joy, as if he had unveiled a fundamental aspect of universe itself as humor. This is what that scene with Dominique and Gale is like for me. Because of Ayn Rand's humor and her ideas on humor, I thought about it for a long time and came to an idea similar to yours, ashleyparkerangel. It lies in the absurdity of taking evil seriously. Comedians are basically negative because they pretend to take evil seriously. In this way, humor is the profound power to destroy evil, by exposing its vacuity, its impotence, its unimportance, and showing that it is nothing. Franklin and Lincoln both demonstrated and spoke of the indispensibility of humor in criticising others and their ideas. People can receive criticism when they laugh that they cannot receive any other way. This explained to me why her scenes with the villains were so funny. These people actually took evil seriously, and she cast them in a light that revealed the absurdity of their doing so. Lois Cook and Ellsworth Toohey were great for this. Oh yes, and Toohey and Dominique had one or two hilarious conversations. Toohey gave me so many laughs. In this way, Ayn Rand would also cut at the weaknesses and faults of her heros. Thus, there is so little humor in her main protagonists, Roark and Galt. I can only think of one or two moments each for them. Oh, yes, between Galt and Dagny in the valley. He has this mercurial humor with her that could flash as sternness, too. For her leading heroes, what would be humor was usually ecstasy. I love what Nathaniel Branden says in his memoir about the massive appeal of the ecstasy of reading her books, as well as her presentation of ecstasy in them, especially her heroes. Also, Francisco was, to me, the funniest character in Atlas Shrugged, especially James Taggart's wedding. This marked a change in her use of humor. Now a protagonist in the capacity of being a hero was funny. I can't remember any of the antagonists in Atlas Shrugged being funny. This made the book heavier than its predecessor. It is a weakness to me of Atlas Shrugged compared to The Fountainhead. I found James Taggart grotesque throughout. Then Dagny and Rearden had a heartbreakingly funny moment in Part Two, on page 352 in the restaurant, where she says, "Hank, I . . . I'd give up anything I've ever had in my life, except my being a . . . a luxury object of your amusement." I do not believe that anyone who says that Ayn Rand was without humor ever knew her work. Andrew
  14. This is definitely one of the most hilarious parts of the Al-Qaeda Conspiracy Theory. Cellphones simply do not work at high speeds or high altitudes.
  15. Cool, Ted. I look forward to it. Andrew