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Everything posted by AndrewED

  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
  16. LLAAADEEEEES and GENNNNTLEMUNNNNN, In this corner, Reynold, the Rabid Randian! And in this corner, Terry, the Terrible Tolerator! Lock horns boys, this is going to be a fight to the bitter axioms. Free cigarettes for everyone! Come the end, we shall not fail to pronounce moral judgment on the winner and loser alike.
  17. Ted, Okay, sir, I am finally here to respond to your thoroughgoing post. I'm quite tired, so I will probably have to return and correct some typos when I can better see them. Reading and responding to your post really brings home to me the needlessness, in philosophy, of the word, existence. When I wrote the article last year, and even after I arrived here with it a couple weeks ago, I thought I needed to make a place in philosophy for it and especially, for non-existence. But actually, I feel more and more what a waste of time these concepts are within the context of philosophy, where we don't need to know about this kind of thing. They're big "a priori" whirlpools, invitations to blow hot air. Though elsewhere (such as physics), I think they could be profoundly useful, because there, they could be tested. Cutting them out of philosophy makes so many heretofore complicated things very simple. In studying philosophy, one's soul could spread out to embrace all things, regardless of which of them stand out to her in the beginning. Now, onto your post. If I have misunderstood you at any point, big or little, please tell me. When I first read this sentence, I thought, "Oh, wonderful! Someone finally gets what I'm saying! I'm finally beginning to say it clearly enough to be gotten." So I really wish I could agree with you. But after rereading it a few times, I would have to change the last word, "actualities", to thing.First, because of the plural. I don't think the grammar works. Second, the word, actuality, is not big enough at this level of abstraction. Only thing or being are. (My conversation with Stephen about actuals and potentials happened when I still thought existence and non-existence had a place in philosophy.) I'm having to learn this word, stipulate. From what I can tell from its definitions, if she is promising that existence and being are identical; if the terms of her conversation are that I accept her equation of existence with being, then I guess she and I don't have a deal.But I don't think she stipulated it. I don't find her explicit at all. I find her presuming that I will just accept her equation of existence and being. She makes no argument for their identity. She just assumes it. She never made any such statement as, "...and should we ever find existence and being to be not exactly the same thing, then, of course, we'll have put one over the other and change how we speak." As it is, with her philosophy, everything exists, exists, exists (stands out). When in fact, all you can say about something as a philosopher is that it is, and that, whatever it is, that's what it is. Even if it were true that she stipulated her definitions, such stipulation, if I understand you correctly, could only occur within the bounds of a word's meaning. Otherwise, one is engaging in a kind of neologism, something she vigorously opposed. As someone who learned English as as second language as well as she did; as someone obsessed with clarity and the science of knowing and the absolutely crucial role of words, meanings, definitions, etc in human life; I would venture to say that she was as married to her dictionary as she was to her husband, if not more so. I personally consider her the one who taught me my own language. I think she was very concerned with traditional meanings of words, but not necessarily their associations. For example, she reclaimed the word, selfishness, for virtue like this. You relate that you did not come across any faults in the way she used the terms being, existent, and existence. For all the reasons I have given, I think that I did. Which addresses something you said in your second post: Again, I think she was flat out wrong. At this level of abstraction, there is no wiggle room, no room for error or inexactitude of any degree. I have no quarrel with or confusion about this point. Again, I don't feel confused about this. I would only take issue with the word, connotation. That is a Kantian corruption of the process of word-definition. It sounds like the Greeks used "being" the way I use "existence". Only they did not have another word for how we use being. If that is true, that would explain to me why their culture faded. At least, it would explain to me Aristotle's getting caught in the muck of cosmology: his very language necessitated it. The Greek language made him talk, as a philosopher, about the precise physical nature of reality rather than just the fact that it is. That's a bad spot to be in.Or, did "being" mean to them what it means to us: "that which is"? In that case, the Stoics were out of their gourds. Those loopy mystics! Yes, but as they still have the concept. They just don't have a separate word for it. It is built into the other words (the nouns in Russian). It's too bad. But at least she sketched one, and she gave several good reasons why such a book should be very short. Whether Aristotle didn't get it and the Stoics were right, or Aristotle got it but she didn't get Aristotle in this regard, all I know is that she did not get the broader issue. By restricting her idea of reality to existence, she explicitly denied that there was anything else. My questions: 1) What did she know? 2) Why did it matter to her as a philosopher? It's like when she witnessed a clinical demonstration of hypnosis, was impressed to the point of shock, and then denied its validity shortly after. As they say, it ain't just a river... Now here, both she and I disagree with you. Philosophy is prior to science, linguistics, and history. This was a liberating point she made many times. This was her argument against including cosmology in philosophy. As a philosopher, one does NOT have to know any of this stuff. One need know only that whatever is, is, and that whatever is, is something. That's where metaphysics ends, and no part of philosophy properly goes on to say anything about the particular nature of being as such. As long as one does not specify or exclude certain kinds of being from reality or the universe, one has done one's job, philosophically. As I said, philosophy leaves the identification of the concretes to whomever needs to do it.The thing I love about all this personally is that I am not saying anything she did not teach me to say. I am merely saying what she, for whatever reason, could not say. To me, this is a mark of a great teacher: one who teaches others to finish important jobs that she could not finish herself. As an Objectivist familiar told me once, quoting da Vinci, "He is but a poor pupil who excels not his master." Anyway, I've tried. Thanks again for your response. Andrew
  18. Dragonfly and Rich, Regarding Dagny and the guard: I would like to point out that Dagny did not meet the indecisive guard at a tea party where they could discuss the morality of a hypothetical situation. He was part of a team holding an innocent man by force. Regardless of whether he understood the injustice of that, it was his body in the way of one of his victim's rescuers. This made him liable. As someone pursuing a righteous purpose, she was morally obliged to dissimulate with her mortal enemy in whatever way she saw fit in order to defeat him. Amazingly, she gave him a chance to get out of the way. She told him what she would do if he didn't. She did not express any enjoyment in what she did. She did it because it had to be done. I find her absolutely justified in killing him, for all the reasons that Ayn Rand gave. And this is all beside the fact that death quickly finds a man like this as the natural result of his frame of mind, one way or another. What planet did he think he was on, anyway? From my brushes with dangerous adversaries, I think we should all be so lucky as to acquire Dagny's attitude about it. I greatly appreciate Ayn Rand's portrayals of the courage and honor demanded by high stakes situations. Her words helped me keep my head when I especially needed to. Andrew
  19. Ted, It's great to meet you. Your posts really got me. It's so awesome for me to have my essay get such serious treatment. Thank you. I just spent all night doing everything I could to integrate into the essay the points you raised and/or my responses to them. I'll come back soon to more thoroughly respond to your specific points in a separate post. Yours, Andrew
  20. On the other hand, considering what the Brandens, especially Barbara, related about Frank's depression and alcoholism, perhaps the malevolent or at least dark sense of life some people see in the painting has some basis. When was Diminishing Returns painted? The title makes me think of the phrase, "...and many happy returns." Which would give the painting a dark twist. The Christmas balls breaking or floating off from the wooden doll left alone. I appreciate that Frank was often a delightful man. And I can see the other side of him in this painting without looking too hard. Having taken Rand's analysis of art to heart, I became so sensitive for a period lasting 2-3 months that I rarely failed to choose a highly (at least 2nd rate) romantic, inspiring movie based on just its box in the video store. Given all the garbage out there, that's got to count for something. On the OTHER hand, I must be a peasant because I love Parrish. Maybe it is my tiddlywink painting. Or maybe she had a severe seriousness addiction. ;)
  21. A big revision of the essay is now up! Everything had gotten so complicated. The essay got longer and longer. I was partaking in discussions of cosmology all over the forum, for heaven's sakes! How was this happening? It came from my attempt to keep existence in the Objectivist metaphysics at all. Being totally replaces it. Thanks to everyone for your ongoing input in various ways and places. I'm getting the help here that I, in coming, quickly saw I needed. Andrew
  22. TOTALLY AWESOME DEVELOPMENT Rich, Suddenly working out this question somehow got really complicated. I mean, now there was this essay of mine for you to read and a stack of books for me. Standing back from it all, I couldn't figure out how I had ended up in a conversation about cosmology when I just wanted to talk about metaphysics. I didn't mind, I was just puzzled. I agree with Ayn Rand that cosmology is not properly a part of philosophy. What had I done? Then I figured out what in my essay had led me to it all: my still trying to use the words existence and non-existence; to define them; to keep them in the Objectivist metaphysics AT ALL. Attempting, as a philosopher, to describe the precise physical nature of reality is a mistake. That is the job of scientists, who now have made a real science of the ancient guessing game of cosmology. So why keep these words? I found a better word with which to replace existence (being). And I had translated it into an axiom and a formal definition of reality to boot, things philosophy actually needs. There's no need for the outmoded words, nor for any explanation of them. This is so great. I came here for feedback on the essay. I got it, directly and indirectly, through everything that I and everyone said. It baffled me for a week and then it sank in. I just rewrote and retitled the essay, Existence Isn't Everything. You people are awesome! Thanks to our efforts, I think my essay is, in its new conception, at least on its way to readability. Yours, Andrew
  23. Yes, under "Recent Work". I will add that while I love Wilber for his goal, since I don't know his work, I don't know if he actually succeeds, therefore, whether I would agree with him. But if not, his ideas can at least serve as a pointer to something else. I'm game.
  24. Rich, If I understand correctly, Wilber's AQAL interior describes part of existence, thus is not what I am talking about. BUT I found hints of a bigger application of the idea of the interior at the very bottom of this page: That may or may not contain what I'm saying, but it approaches it, anyway. Again, there is much more in my essay. It is more abstract, thus more inclusive, I think. I love Wilber because inclusiveness is his goal, too. I just don't know his ideas.
  25. Rich, Wilber--I'll check out AQAL. I have purposely remained vague about my thesis within Barbara's topic because my essay spells out everything clearly, in context. Have you read it? (Or read it lately? I've been revising it heavily since I got here with it).