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Everything posted by anthony

  1. I don't argue with that. J's work is actually quite suited to romantic realism, what I've seen. But the making of art and the thinking about it can often be distinct from each other, self-contradictory and conflicting - his thinking is what I simply call the empirical-mystical mode in art. From what i can tell from artists and art critics etc.,, that's universally been ~long~ educated into artists and their following from some early philosophers and religionists. IE. The work of art "transcends" reality and minds. Which is why he hasn't taken on board - and tried to understand - the reality-consciousness-consciousness mode which, simplistically and broadly, constitutes the "Objectivist Esthetics".
  2. Setting the tone for a fruitful debate. ... and "meanings" are what you, not Rand, put into viewing art. To repeat, objectivity starts at knowing what you are seeing - not mind-reading the artist, second-guessing him. Only then - one can see what he sees, and be affected by his vision or not. You don't get "objectivity and rationality", so farewell.
  3. Stories of Kindness from Around the World "How Babemba Tribe Forgives" --by brighteyes, posted Sep 26, 2007 "In the Babemba tribe of South Africa, when a person acts irresponsibly or unjustly, he is placed in the centre of the village, alone and unfettered. All work ceases, and every man, woman, and child in the village gathers in a large circle around the accused individual. Then each person in the tribe speaks to the accused, one at a time, each recalling the good things the person in the centre of the circle has done in his lifetime. Every incident, every experience that can be recalled with any detail and accuracy, is recounted. All his positive attributes, good deeds, strengths, and kindnesses are recited carefully and at length. This tribal ceremony often lasts for several days. At the end, the tribal circle is broken, a joyous celebration takes place, and the person is symbolically and literally welcomed back into the tribe." ------ The above makes for nice reading, and is pure fantasy. Sorry. There's no "Babemba tribe" in South Africa, or any place in southern Africa I've read or been - and I've never heard this reported from elsewhere in Africa, as it certainly would be . The "bush justice" which instead can happen in a few outlying rural areas of SA some times, are black vigilante groups who badly whip ("Sjambok") suspected culprits or criminals when caught, and occasionally murdered a few. (Covered on Carte Blanche, a local TV programme, tonight). But the wishful, extravagant and uninformed comments in jts' link are eye-opening and amusing ;)
  4. Perhaps it is worthwhile quoting what Nathaniel continues with - after, "...the choice entails an enormity of issues... "Focusing versus non-focusing. Thinking vs. non-thinking. Awareness vs. non-awareness. Clarity vs. obscurity or vagueness. Respect for reality vs. avoidance of reality Respect for facts vs. denial of facts. Respect for truth vs. rejection of truth. Perseverance in the attempt to understand vs. abandonment of the attempt. Loyalty in action to our professed convictions vs. disloyalty (this is the issue of integrity). Honesty with self vs. dis honesty. Self-confrontation vs. self-avoidance. Receptivity to new knowledge vs. close-mindedness. Willingness to see and correct mistakes vs. perseverance in error. Concern with congruence vs. disregard of contradictions. Reason vs. irrationalism; respect for logic, consistency, coherence, and evidence vs. disregard." p18 HTS Taken singly most O'ists would think there's nothing much new here, each item they already know. But imo, the entire collection in sum has the effect of entrenching individual free will (vs. determinism). "Focus" is the shorthand for volition, this list breaks it down into components - I think
  5. Wow, back from the dead again. Objectivity, in all things, starts at knowing what you are seeing. Even some little hint of a recognizably real entity, would be good. It's no good blaming the viewer if an artist is incapable or obscurantist or self-indulgent, etc.
  6. This is close to my opinion; men have traditionally been more earnest and romantic -- because they HAD to be. Popular music for a long time reflected that emotional adulation of women, (occasionally descending to sentimentality). The flavor of songs has changed dramatically since. Lately, as women have become very assertive, initiating contact with men much more, is the reason that songs by males have turned less romantic, more cynical and quite passive, I believe.
  7. Bitterly cold, sunny dry weather here, Peter. It gets down to almost 0 C in Jhb, altitude asl near 6000 ft. Very rarely we can even get snow. Only a 4 month winter, thankfully.
  8. Artificial, yes. This need and drive for proportional representation in all fields is a depressing sign - the social engineering of group-identity that promotes mediocrity at the expense of quality, and lowers everybody. As for comparative gender ability, I've always asked: where are the female songwriters? Why haven't as many women too, written those good lyrics as prolifically as men have and do, going back over fifty years. A great song is a great song, period. It will sell to the market and make mega-profits, if created by a female or male, equally. So don't tell me woman talent is being held down by "male-dominated industry" ..bla bla - women performer-singers have always been highly packaged/promoted and female listeners are as big buyers as males. One can only gather that men, as a whole, have higher proficiency and motivation for song/music creation. Why that's so is puzzling. Look up online the proportions of m/f song artists and one still sees the lame, politically correct excuses to explain this imbalance:
  9. I like Branden's comprehensive approach. He penetrates the whole free will enchilada, philosophical, epistemological, psychological, subconscious - integrated, as background for his specific purpose, self-esteem. "To focus", by Rand, is an insufficient explanation, alone, of volition, it can seem. In a footnote to his explanation of free will, NB says: ["It is closest to the concept of volition proposed by Ayn Rand but differs from hers in that Rand identifies the choice to focus exclusively with the choice to think, to engage in a process of explicit reasoning, whereas ... my own view of the choice to focus is considerably broader"] A few more snips: "Freedom does not mean causelessness; this point must be stressed. A volitional choice is not causeless. It is caused by the person who makes the choice, and the choice entails an enormity of issues". [...] "Our freedom is neither absolute nor unlimited, however. There are many factors that can make the appropriate exercise of our consciousness easier or harder. Some of these factors may be genetic, biological. Others are developmental. The environment can support and encourage the healthy assertion of consciousness, or it can oppose and undermine it. [...] Clearly, the desire to be more aware does not guarantee that the results of our efforts will be successful. We are free to try; there is never a guarantee of success. If there were ..fewer people would avoid the responsibility of thinking. Uncertainty is built into the very essence of our existence, and it is this uncertainty and freedom that create the need for self-esteem". Honoring the Self, p18-19. Peter, that "soft" determinism, I'm thinking, could be considered as what was 'given' to one. Ultimately, it's not even determinist, but *seeming* so, just enough to confuse the issue. Obviously -- each one of us has to come from "somewhere", some environment, some upbringing, with certain genetic traits, and from some period of time. Add ~many~ prior experiences. All of these give one an undeniable metaphysical, influential base - but above and beyond which, one is completely free "to choose". Within bounds of reality, one can see that the range of choices of thought and action are endless, each one branching to others. The experience 'from the inside' of being the free chooser, aware of the capacity to change one's mind at any instant, or to continue, is the closest to proof we may ever find. That, and observing the physical results of choices others have made, the 'effects' that untold millions have 'caused'. The ostensive - "all of that!" (sweeping an arm around at everything man-made in existence). Tell me "that" was inevitable - "predetermined"!
  10. Considering how much she wrote about volition (through to the volitional consciousness being the principle of romantic realist art) Rand said next to nothing about determinism, surprising to me. Her only entry in the lexicon under "Determinism": "Dictatorship and determinism are reciprocally reinforcing corollaries: if one seeks to enslave men, one has to destroy their reliance on the validity of their own judgments and choices—if one believes that reason and volition are impotent, one has to accept the rule of force". “Representation Without Authorization,” The Ayn Rand Letter Dictatorship-determinism? That's not an immediately apparent corollary, looks a bit of a conceptual stretch, at first. But past instances of dictators could bear it out. Every dictator usually has been met with resigned, fatalist, submission by a number of the populace. "This was meant to be, I am a mere pawn, I have not the conviction and determination to oppose it". Most others would embrace their dictator, since he promises to fulfill the Utopian destiny proper to the people - by force over the people. Both of them would need to believe this outcome was 'predetermined' by antecedent events. As Left-socialism grows in places, doesn't it seem that determinism has some part to play, by way of 'predetermined' factors: e.g. "victimhood", entitlement, power lust, etc., - and by the self-negation of individual free will? Who's going to inform Sam Harris of the probable, final result of his theory?
  11. Same source, ch.The Need for Self-Esteem, HtS, by NB: "We are the one species that is able to form a judgment about what is best for us to do--*and then proceed to do the complete opposite*. We are the one species free to disregard our own knowledge or to betray our own values. The concept of hypocrisy is not applicable to lower animals; neither is the virtue of integrity". To round off - the antidote to Sam Harris: "Man is a being of self-made soul". "Man is a being of volitional consciousness". AR
  12. I think that Harris' determinism is 'harder' than what you suggest, Korben. Because those events/influences "*precede* any conscious decision to act", by necessity, they must be acted out--or else Harris would have to admit to free will. Yes, the man *might* not become a killer -- but *not* because he *chooses* otherwise. Then Harris' theory would fall flat. Maybe, he doesn't ~feel like~ killing just yet, maybe the circumstances aren't right, etc., but at anytime in future he could, um ~decide~to enact his preconditioned impulse. Doubtless, Harris must realise that blame, self-responsibility (and pride in achievement) etc. - or any moral judgments - are greatly weakened or nullified by the actor not being in control of his own acts - (what that will do to any individual who properly practised his doctrine, not to mention to society, is awful to consider). Which means Harris has no grounds to base an ethics upon. Not the good for others, nor the good for oneself. The field of ethics is self-denied to anyone who believes no one has volition in their actions. Harris ends up in self-contradiction, since as we can see, his credo doesn't stop him from making his moral judgments online, at times pertinent and rational. (Ah, his rational thinking was also determined - may be his reply). Because, Harris equally and consistently thinks and has stated that "the self" is a myth - so what agent remains which can "decide" to overrule one's 'propensity' to e.g. murder? Or to decide that murder is immoral? Or choose anything? Nothing. After all, one's act is "predetermined", absent of will AND self... What he does, simply, is apply causality backwards, from this present individual 'effect' back to those 'causes', deductively and empirically, like he'd likely do with experiments in matter and energy. Envisaging a consciousness which projects 'forwards' and deliberately integrates its knowledge hierarchically, and selects its own moral principles, apparently would not occur to a reductive-materialist, as Harris shows himself to be. For whom the self is "matter". Nathaniel B writes in Honoring the Self (as of course, free will has essential connections and a supporting role to self-esteem, just as predeterminism will corrupt self-esteem): "Aside from other objections that may be raised, determinism contains a central and insuperable contradiction--a contradiction implicit in any variety of determinism, whether the alleged determining forces be physical, psychological, environmental, or divine. The determinist view of mind maintains that whether an individual thinks or not, takes cognizance of the facts of reality or not, places facts above feeling or feelings above facts--all are determined by forces outside his or her control, at any given moment or situation, the individual's method of mental functioning is the inevitable product of an endless chain of antecedent factors".
  13. Harris: "Consider a generic serial killer--his choice to commit his last murder was determined by neurophysiological events in his brain, which were in turn determined by prior causes, bad genes unhappy childhood, a night of lost sleep ...these events precede any conscious decision to act." (at 7.00 min)
  14. In his video this fellow says that if free will were 'scientifically' debunked, "This would have compelling effects on our notions of praise, blame, pride and guilt". What's really disturbing - it makes him happy. And you have to wonder why. Perhaps he hasn't thought through what all the "effects" are and will be. More sinister, maybe he has, but enjoys the prospect of an end to self-responsibility, independent-minds and all the rest which follows. Since, individually, having no free will means that one's thinking, values, character and actions are all pre-set, and whatever one tries to do, one must revert to the inevitability of what was predetermined. At the scale of society, people will consider themselves, and be considered and treated, by their 'backgrounds' - especially, race, but many other 'tribes'. I.e. Determinism --> collectivism. "Backgrounds", after all, are clear and inevitable determinants on one's identity, thinking, choices and actions - aren't they?! We see those dangerous "tribal" effects every day on the media, especially from leftists -- contrasted with religious conservatives who regularly show a very distinct sense of self-responsibility, therefore, perhaps oddly, a distinct freedom of will. It is more disturbing that Sam Harris, who I guess would normally deplore these political/social trends, adds his intellectual weight to the "illusion of free will", likely influencing his large numbers of followers.
  15. That study is important, I'm surprised and pleased the "consensus" is not as much consensual as I'd been led to think. Good on the independent scientists who haven't capitulated, but it all seems like Galileo against the Catholic Church. Can AGW, the religion, be pulled back this far down the road of smug, universal belief and power-politicization?
  16. I think, conversely, much more *unpredictable* behavior, Dg. The concept of self has more going for it than 'a self-concept' - the "self" has identity, it is an existent, an instance of autonomous consciousness. An identity -- the reasoned knowledge and rational moral standards which an individual has acquired (or less/or not acquired), form the base (or not) of his free choices, simplistically, to do one thing or another or nothing, in accordance with reality. If he has lost this base, he's left at the mercy of whatever random, passing "causes" that come along, and behaves erratically and arbitrarily, or copycatting others. Then, naturally, he'd claim the validity of determinism above free will. (I doubt that his "self" - i.e. consciousness, ego - is ever totally "lost", nor is his free will - without some small reserve of those, a person could not survive, he'd be e.g. run over by traffic early on. So the argument that determinists make is invalidated by the stolen concept fallacy: they rely on this reserve of free will in order to deny it).
  17. That self-evidence of "freedom of will" (as N. Branden has put it) is what determinists, usually also skeptics of mind, are quick to disparage. They won't make the causal connections taken from their own past experiences, so can't perceive of anyone being able to do so. Rather than one 'scientific' experiment trying to discredit free will, each individual personally ~knows~ volition from an ongoing self-experiment with his (often, most minor) life-acts and -choices. This - or that? (Or neither?) Now- or later? (Or never?) Etc. Countless instances of those. Awareness may begin for one, when an infant, knocking a plate off the table: "Me did that!" The connection of "me" affecting some "thing", so being first cause, free and regardless of "antecedent factors". Growing confidence in one's free mind to be effective in further complexities of choice - self-cause and effect in action - empower one to achieve further still - within the limits of what's possible.. The (apparently) non-self-aware, skeptic-determinist only sees prior causality, which ~must~ be followed, making each individual life an obedient "effect". Thinking: "this" impacts upon one, so only "that" can result.
  18. I thought you, or someone, would recognize the Kant quote. It is very expressive, I like it, if it were not for what I know about Kant's "moral law within me"...
  19. To me the efficacy of free will was physically demonstrated (if not 'proven'), by the findings of neuroscience about neural mapping, that one's latest activities of thinking (and physical action) continuously produce fresh neural pathways.So thought, a mental act, makes for physical growth. Therefore, brain and consciousness are inextricably interlinked. Going back to eliminativism of the "persisting subject of experience", if free will is the "self"-initiation (or "self"-starting) of conscious cognition and actions (objectively, the volitional consciousness), eliminating the "self" is logically also eliminating free will. Fascinating. Does excluding volition cause the exclusion of ego? Or in reverse, does the eliimination of ego produce determinism? Perhaps the two work in tandem. As do and must, ego and volition.
  20. You are not alone in that. "Two things awe me most, the starry skies above me and the moral law within me".
  21. An atheist-spiritualist? I noticed that a really high intelligence can make anything 'work' (rationalistically). But how he handles his self-contradictions beats me. Then it looks like Harris the spiritualist is a dualist, of the original "Soul/body dichotomy".
  22. Eliminativism of self. Yes, you couldn't function, "proper to man". Isn't this relevant to your theme in the other topic, violent people? Mr Hume is No.1 on my personal list. Given there are several influences on modern intellectuals, and my limited reading of them, I think much of what ails mankind's minds today can be traced back to Hume's doorstep. Also, he was voted No.1 in a survey among philosophy undergrads eight years ago, for: "the most influential dead philosopher". Aristotle, second, Kant, third.
  23. Stanford Encyclopedia: "Eliminative Materialism". In principle, anyone denying the existence of some type of thing is an eliminativist with regard to that type of thing. Thus, there have been a number of eliminativists about different aspects of human nature in the history of philosophy. For example, hard determinists like Holbach (1770) are eliminativists with regard to free will because they claim there is no dimension of human psychology that corresponds to our commonsense notion of freedom. Similarly, by denying that there is an ego or persisting subject of experience,Hume (1739) was arguably an eliminativist about the self. Reductive materialists can be viewed as eliminativists with respect to an immaterial soul. [...]
  24. Dg, I had second thoughts. These determinists aren't dualist of mind-body, they re reductive-materialists. For them, there is only "matter" i.e. the brain. There's why they won't subscribe to a metaphysics. "New Atheists" like Harris dislike anything which smacks to them of religious sounding mumbo-jumbo.
  25. Good one, Dg. Mind-body dualism. Mind-brain dualism. "You are not controlling the are the storm". "Your brain has already determined what you will do". Sam Harris. A scientist has 'proven' the absence of free will with the old fMRI and button-pressing routine... The last video was invaluable, in order to realise what our society is becoming: those numbers of people who believe it is not ~they~ who choose -- it's their brain. The last presenter asks, rhetorically: Therefore, does anyone deserve gratitude; does anyone deserve blame? He bemoans: nobody recognizes the gravity of these 'discoveries' since men ignore the "inconvenient truth". But we ~do~ recognize how serious this is, just not the way he sees it.. And determinism is on the rise, by those who 'conveniently' believe their brains were "predetermined" that they do such n such -- "so, don't blame me!"