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Everything posted by Christopher

  1. We don't need to go into the details. All of us seem to agree. Rational awareness cannot see behind the cloak of unconscious thinking, and that thinking massively influences our motivation to believe, disbelieve, or disregard information (with post-hoc rational justification).
  2. Necessarily Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead are great books (wow, I actually prefer Fountainhead because it lays out the premises more clearly, whereas Atlas demonstrates those premises in more applied settings). I also found Capitalism: Unknown Ideal to be a bit daunting if you're not into economics. But Virtue of Selfishness is simply amazing. Probably one of my favorites! I wonder whether we can find contradictions explicitly in Rand's writings? Most of the contradictions I find are between her definitions and actual exposure to life or other fields of knowledge. It's not that her writings are contradictory per se, they just often are not complete. As such, she tends to reduce other aspects of life (say, human psychology) into her model when her model is incapable of handling it. These reductions then result in interpretations that contradict her premises. For example (and just for example, not an actual take on Rand's work): she might conclude empathy-drive is selfless, whereas psychology shows that empathy is fundamental to happiness. Therefore, she might interpret something required for self-fulfillment as self-sacrifice. Why? Simply because she did not understand the subject... a reduction.
  3. This might explain some of Rand's contradictions. She might not have been explicitly following her premises because she had an interpretation of those premises beforehand that wasn't true to the letter of her word, so-to-speak. Of course, nobody is a blank slate before they start laying out serious thoughts. Heck, Joseph Campbell would be the first to say we're not even born as blank slates!
  4. I agree wholeheartedly. One of the additional beauties of Rand's confrontational manner was that she kept spotting all the little assumptions that had crept into our general cultural beliefs, and she shot them. While others, perhaps like Mises & Heyek, tried to plant new ideas in the existing cultural dirt, Rand uprooted the entire garden and replanted in freshly-tilled soil. Of course, anyone nurturing ideas in the cultural dirt got shaken up a bit regardless of the quality of their ideas, for better or worse. Perhaps she judged a person's garden by the weeds in it more so than the plants. (that's my analogy for the day) A group identity can still be perceived as a discrete unit of group identity. It's not how individuals per se are viewed, it's about the perspective on identities in general. For example, does the carburetor function discretely and in unison with the engine, or does the carburetor have a relationship with the engine? (this might be far-fetched ) Tons of evidence about human motives and psychological organization, though.
  5. This was not the way I thought about it. My understanding is that induction is taking in new knowledge, deduction is deducing facts from previously-gained knowledge. Induction - Observation Deduction - Includes most any theoretical prediction based on observation Induction - apples falls! Deduction - must be a force called gravity Induction - planets rotate around the sun! Deduction - planets must get captured by the gravitational pull of stars
  6. It's not so much about ideology, it's about psychology (although the latter will influence perceptions leading to the former). Someone can be very individualistic in their thinking and still be a communist (Marx, Lenin...). Individualistic here refers to apprehending individuals as discrete units, whether those units are volitional or parts of a machine. The opposite would be collectivistic, where individuals are experienced in relationship with each other, which again could be ideologically focused on individuals (Mother Teresa) or society at large (Gandhi perhaps?). I could be choosing my exemplars poorly here, I have no idea about the psychology of any of these people. But with Rand, her psychological approach to worldview is fairly clear from her writings.
  7. Two points here, one on Hayek & Rand, one on Beck: 1. Psychology shows that individualists tend to predominantly use differentiated thinking (that is, they spot differences more often than commonalities). There's a reason Rand was fiercely discriminatory - it comes with the psychological territory; therefore I assert she was more sensitive to spotting differences with Hayek than similarities (Rand seemed to rarely ever focus on integrating her philosophy with other belief sets). 2. Michael, you have given me evidence to begin looking back at Beck. The guy is on probation with me , but I'm going to reassess my opinion and give him some attention again.
  8. That's a good one too. I read it while I was in college -- along with Socialism and Liberalism. What did you think of his foundational ideas about evaluating value as a hierarchy that cannot be measured?
  9. I was really inspired by his time-machine metaphor. Yes, science is beautiful. Ideology against life can be a danger. I wonder whether Objectivists sometimes hold their ideology in antithesis to life.
  10. And yet, poverty is the most costly decision you'll ever make.
  11. "Production" per se is a reductionism. The root of production is human freedom and living life (survival) qua man. The only defense for having all land privatized is to provide opportunity for individuals to actively support themselves. But this defense is terribly weak sociologically (it assumes community/culture having zero effect on performance), weak in terms of actual lives saved/supported (where are homeless going to exist?), and rather irrelevant given the volume of available land still open to privatization. Likewise, public land may add value to the community in ways that allows for man to live qua man (given our evolution as mobile animals). So while I can't condone stealing private land to make it public, I don't buy that there is a definitive rational argument for making all land available to privatization. Also, what is "reasonable?" Any definition of reasonable itself is defined in social context. But I like the way you're thinking.
  12. Not quite, but then, you haven't read him.
  13. Then you see the claim Quinn is making - that we are within an ecosystem and not necessarily the gravitational center of it (nor perhaps should we be). Therefore, Quinn might conclude that we should pursue an approach of integration rather than deconstruction/reconstruction, with the former posing greater survival value to man.
  14. Good post Michael. I can't even imagine a way to have private property without some sort of mutual consent among people. How many different ways are there to make "liberty"-based ideological claims to private land???? Who knows! And therein lies the justification of common property, as we are both pointing out. There exists a system in which private property exists, and that system has space (should and must have space) for non-privatized property.
  15. Randall, It's an interesting topic worth discussing. We both know Rand's philosophy, so let's flush out the issue to a greater depth rather than limit our vision to the philosophy of a single person. It is my understanding, correct me if I am wrong, that the national boundary of a country extends 20 miles off the coast. This number is likely already a "community" number decided among the different nations of the world. There are a lot of agreements among men that must exist by mutual consent, even with a functioning ideology in the background. For example, how much air pollution is too much air pollution? Science can tell us various risk levels, but individuals decide subjectively what is too much risk. In the case of national boundaries (leaving aside whether a government should instruct U.S.-based companies how to operate in international waters), the land within those boundaries are in a way the living environment of all the citizens by virtue of being neighbor to one-another. Within this space, private property exists. Private property is extremely important, but it is cast in foreground to the background of national boundaries. We cannot make a reduction either way. National boundaries are the paper on which private property is written and protected by law, and those national boundaries are in turn supported by the existence of private property (i.e. a shared ideology among men). So again I will stress that man has the right to private property, but it is the community among men that mutually upholds privatization and decides, much as we decide what is too much air pollution, what property is available for privatization. Private property boundaries, currently geographic in nature, influences neighboring property tremendously and therefore the idea of fully-private property cannot be defined. If a tree on my property produces oxygen, isn't that my oxygen? Such arguments lead quickly into absurdity. So there is property that influences the community of private property holders by virtue of simply being local. We take this into account, and I believe as a nation we should have the opportunity to protect this property as an expression of protecting our own private property and interests. At the same time, we are not infringing on anybody's rights. As for calculability - it is neither justification for nor against taking action. Anyway, I've already written too much for a single post. But the topic is not so simple as you can see.
  16. It's tough to know the relative risks of deep water vs. shallow water to local beaches. And when we discuss the habitat, the fishermen, and the relative preservation of the ecosystem, the issue becomes even more sticky. But as you point out, even 50 miles away damages coastline. Doesn't that suggest there is risk to the public beaches and therefore the issue should be decided by voters? It's not that private companies have a right to utilizing certain property; they don't. The liberty accorded to private companies is the right to purchase land that is available and to utilize land they own as they so choose. The issue of what land should be made privately available is an issue for the community, for the voters.
  17. In California, the disaster in Santa Barbara was 2 miles off the coast, so definitely two miles is too few. I agree that the federal government should not have the authority (although it seems they do) to determine whether offshore drilling can occur off states. The vote should go with those who assume the risk. Within the state, I think it's difficult to allow such powers to individual communities since the effects of community decisions extend to areas far larger than the community, whether it be oil in the sea, nuclear plants in the city, or pollution into the air. But at the same time, I can see how a state might actually abuse communities, so the solution isn't perfect either way.
  18. Where is the center of the universe that we know earth isn't in? -Brant We're not talking perspectives within the universe, we're talking about the fundamental organization of the universe. The Christians believed the sun (and everything else) rotated around the Earth. Copernicus could tell you the story.
  19. Unfortunately this reductionism happens quite frequently in Objectivism from what I've observed. Private property and production become the ends rather than the means to some greater end. In following the reduction, people begin to support behaviors and systems that undermine human life and liberty on a more universal scale. These Objectivists do so simply to allow producers to produce more efficiently (as an end rather than a means), private property owners to act without restriction (as an end rather than a means), or the development of oil rigs of the coast of California (just had to add that last one)
  20. This is nice to read that you share the view. Sometimes voicing unpopular concepts (to Objectivists) receive flak and insults that are rather unpleasant.
  21. Very interesting article, and it's a smooth move to question standard social definitions that are somewhat hazy. I'm reading a book by Daniel Quinn entitled Ishmael. Very interesting book. He attempts to have readers question their paradigms about man's place in nature (among other things). Here, nature refers to the ecosystems existing on the planet. In his book, Quinn likens man's view of being in nature to the historical Christian belief that the Earth was the center of the universe. Just as man once believed he was the center of the universe, today he believes he is the center of the ecosystem. Of course the Earth is not the center of the universe. Likewise, is it appropriate or even accurate to assume that man is or should see himself as centrally defining to the planet's ecology? Perhaps the truth is that we co-exist non-centrally on the planet with millions of other organisms. While I believe man should survive, part of that survival depends on understanding our place in nature. According to Objectivism, an inaccurate view of reality leads to lower survival value. As Quinn argues, our belief about man's centrality in nature may be leading to the demolition of diversity in the ecosystem and homogenization of our food sources. These may potentially leave us vulnerable to far greater survival risks than minor roadblocks to production/consumption.