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Everything posted by Xray

  1. Sure. I know plenty of them. I never thought I would see this happen during my lifetime. But then it was like an opening of the floodgates from the time Hungary let the east Germans climb over the frontier. As for the people I know, it differed depending on how much they were actively involved in the resistance movement. Some were still kids back in 1989. Without Gorbatchev consenting by NOT sending his army and crushing the rebellion (as the USSR had done with Czechoslovakia in 1968), all this would not have happened. But the USSR was economically in such a devastating state in 1989 that he agreed to a deal: he was granted immense financial help in exchange for not chosing military intervention. Since Gorbatchev had his back up against the wall, he accepted the deal. He also was intelligent enough to realize that the times were different than in 1968. Embedded reporters were everywhere reporting everything, the media coverage in those months preceding the final climax had been gigantic. Honecker (who was far less astute than Gorbatchev), had already 40,000 armed soldiers prepared to attack his own people, when the message came from Gorbatchev that he would get no support from the USSR. For Gorbatchev had no interest in having the whole world via the media watch a carnage between two socialist brother countries. Here btw is an illustrative example of a 'sacrifice'. Every sacrifice is a trade-off guided by self interest (there is no such thing as altruism): Gorbatchev "sacrificed" the (in this situation) 'lower value' Honecker for the sake of a bigger value: financial support plus saving his image to the world as the visionary glasnost/perestroika politician. 100 self-interest guided Gorbatchev's every move during the whole thing. It was incredible, yes. I was so happy that I had to cry. Imo the horrific effects religion has had in the history of mankind by far outweigh the positive. But the vast majority complied with the regime. For only very few people have the courage to to risk their own lives. I see myself as an in individual, an inhabitant of the earth who happens to live in this country. The cultures in highly industrialized Western countries resemble each other more and more - it is a global phenomenon, the internet playing a pivotal role here. The children in my current kindergarten class for example come from 18 different countries from all over the world. Only two are from Germany. My focus is not on German culture, but on empathy, mutual respect, a set of rules we can agree on, and to lay the basis for them to become independent thinkers. Yes. The devastating effects of the "credit crunch" have hit Germany fully too.
  2. Yes. Thanks for the helpful info. West Germany.
  3. Xray, Please define "philosophical" as you understand how Barbara Branden meant it. In my understanding, it is heavily weighted on epistemological effects here, not metaphysics. Combating the effects of faith were important to Rand because faith-based information (1) is unreliable, (2) hides the motives of evil people, and (3) makes a person doubt his own knowledge. In that sense, yes it is important. Evil folks kill and enslave people and Rand wanted to neutralize them by pulling the covers off their intellectual con game. But in the technical sense of constructing a philosophy from the ground up, faith isn't even considered on the metaphysical level in Objectivism (in the axiomatic concepts). On other levels, it is treated as the chosen alternative to reason, but this is already on the ethical level. Michael I always have problems with the word "metaphysical" here since it is (also) used in philosophical discussions as relating to transcendence only. For example, John Doe might say in a discussion. "I reject any metaphysical speculations, and therefore the question as to whether there is an afterlife or not is of no interest to me." Rand used the word in the sense "view of reality". Imo Rand's rejection of faith ran deeper than the mere combating of the effects of faith. She lambasted religion as the "enemy of the ability to think". I would say B. Branden's use of the word 'philosophical' here refers to the complete objectivist thought system of Ayn Rand. If necessary, we can ask Barbara for further clarification directly here at OL.
  4. With all due respect, but I'll decide myself when to move on. It would interest me how one can be an objectivst and at the same time a devout believer in transcendence. How does this mesh with Rand's claim that faith is incompatible with rationality? (see The Passion of Ayn Rand, p. 165) Rand: "Religion ... is the first enemy of the ability to think. That ability is not used by men to one tenth of its possibility, and before they learn to think, they are discouraged by being ordered to take things on faith." (ibid)
  5. "Hateful"? I was merely describing a bit drastically what is. Or do you think the Catholic church's "infallibility of the Pope" dogma is NOT crazy? Hate is a very detrimental feeling for the psyche. For it emotionally ties the person who hates to the object of the hate as love emotionally ties a a person who loves to the object of his/her love. Hate can be an emotional chain preventing one's soul to break free.
  6. The notion of objective value comes from the conclusion that values exist in objective reality independently of individual cause. Whether called "God's will", or "life proper to man", the common is the concept of "universal moral values." Each individual is by nature a volitional, valuing, goal seeking entity. The root is ALWAYS an individual ATTRIBUTING value to this or that. This identifies the valuations as always subjective. There is no definitive escape from this conclusion. For example, the phrase, "old fashioned values" means nothing more than attributing value to certain beliefs held by an individual and/or others. "Honesty, "hard work", "thrift", "kindness", etc. set out as "values" is simply saying, "I attribute value to these characteristics because they are suited to my purpose." There are no "cardinal values" imo. There is no hierarchy of values. Objectively, there is no ultimate value. Certainly one may at any given time value X more that Y, but this is a matter of subjective choice, not a fixed hierarchy. The objective and identifying characteristic is attributing a value to an goal desired and attributing value to the mean to achieve that goal. One has personal preference subject to change at any time and any place. I can say my goal is to build a house, or my goal is to get the materials to build a house, or my goal is to enjoy the comforts of a house. It logically follows that I must be alive to value the comforts of home. However, since to be alive is my subjective choice within my capabilities, it cannot simultaneously be an "objective standard" (an "ultimate value") with application to all. Imo declaring something to be an objective, ultimate value is superimposing a personal preference upon other personal preferences, thereby, negating those other preferences. Which means, negating the natural law of volition and subjective choice.
  7. Correct imo. But it is a fact that people can (and sometimes do) choose death over life. Choosing to end one's existence as a biological entity is an option. What we call death of a biological entity is the irreversible result of the transition from one stage to another, in numbers from a stage 1 to a stage 2. The chooser in that case values stage 2 more than stage 1.
  8. That man was "created" and "endowed by their Creator" is a theist position. Doesn't this pose problems for the atheists in the country? It's the same here in Germany. The premable to our constitution speaks of the "responsibility to God". In recent time, some politicians refuse to add "so help me God" to their oath. There is currently a controversial debate going on in various European governments about whether or not to include "god" in the common European constitution they are working on. As for the postulated "equality" (correct me if I'm wrong) - weren't some of the Founding Fathers slave-owners themselves?
  9. I apologize if my post came across as "smart-aleck". I don't want to hurt anybody's feelings, but to me as a non-native speaker of English it is often quite difficult to choose the adequate phrases, that is, what may not sound annoying or offensive to my ears at all, may be perceived differently by others. I'm just very passionate about this issue and am enjoying this inspiring discussion. It would be boring if one agreed on everything, and as for opponents in a discussion, imo they keep each other on their toes, which often leads to a review of their thoughts. So Galt's personal, subjective value system leads him to chose non-existence over existence under certain circumstances? To sum up the points in the discussion: Life is a value to the one wanting to live it. (objectivism 101) Life is a non-value to the one not wanting to live it. (also objectivsm 101) For the person wanting to survive in the desert, life is a value, so this person will value the water in his bottle or in an oasis. For the person not wanting to survive (e. g. the old-aged member of a primitive tribe who has voluntarily left his community to die in the desert), life is a non-value, so he will not value water even if it is offered to him. Doesn't this indicate that objective values don't exist, but that what one values/disvalues always depends on personal goals and choices?
  10. What can one expect of the catholic church anyway which holds such crazy dogmas as the 'infallibililtiy' of its top dog?
  11. I agree with AR's position concerning the rejection of faith. Rand: "Religion ... is the first enemy of the ability to think. That ability is not used by men to one tenth of its possibility, and before they learn to think, they are discouraged by being ordered to take things on faith." (end quote) I have shed my faith, but don't want to replace one Procrustes's bed with another.
  12. My point was to trace back (in the desert example you used, to the subjective value (wanting to continue living) directing the use of the tool (in that case, water) to achieve the goal. Of course the person will also "value" the means helping him to achieve the end, but it is still merely the means chosen to achieve a (subjectively valued) goal. Let's not get sidetracked. The discussion here is about whether objective values exist and the quote from Rand is not about a hierarchy of values. It merely stresses the volitional choice of an individual acting to gain or keep what he /she considers as a value. The "whys" are subjective choices. And life is a non-value to the one not wanting to live it. This is logic 101. Rand's objectivist claim that "the only objective value", one's life, does not stand up to scrutiny imo. To illustrate, I'll use the "thirst in the desert" example posted by you. In former times, old-aged members of some tribes went into the wilderness on their own to die there because they did not consider their life as the ultimate value. Even if they had been offered water there, they would not have taken it. Again, what one considers as 'boring' is an entirely subjective assessment. You will see in the course of the discussion that I'm not disagreeng for the purpose of disagreeing. But I am a stickler for preciseness and will ask for clarification to avoid any misunderstandings. Feel free any time to ask me to clarify too. "Positive idea" is a subjective statement too. But I suppose you mean if there is anything about Rand's work I personally agree with. There sure is. Example: Rand: "Religion ... is the first enemy of the ability to think. That ability is not used by men to one tenth of its possibility, and before they learn to think, they are discouraged by being ordered to take things on faith." (end quote) I have shed my faith, but don't want to replace one Procrustes's bed with another.
  13. No. It is the wish to continue living which is the value. The water is the 'tool' to achieve that goal, a means to an end. If I want to sew me a dress, the scissors I use to cut the fabric is not the value behind the action. Same as above. The value is the wish to continue living directing the use of a means (water) to that end. Again, it is about valuing one's own survival more or one's sacred ideas. The water is merely a means to achieve a valued end.
  14. But not for e. g. a nihilist. Philosophical standards are subjective choices too.
  15. Like you said, water is a necessity for survival. So is taking in air to survive, or shedding metabolic waste products. You equate those physiogical necessities with the word "objective value"? One MUST do these things (take in water etc), in order to survive. There is "no ought to" here. Rand: "The concept "value" is not a primary; it presupposes an answer to the question: of value to whom and for what? It presupposes an entity capable of acting to achieve a goal in the face of an alternative. Where no alternative exists, no goals and no values are possible."
  16. It obviously WAS a major theme. Barbara Branden wrote: "The absolutism of reason with its corollary, the rejection of faith, was and remained, the philosophical issue most important to the philosophical issue most important to Rand. Ayn." (end quote) (Source: The passion of Ayn Rand, chapter "The Fountainhead", p. 165). Good and relevant quote. I urge you to read it carefully - it makes the point I have been making. Thanks for citing it. Reason is a pillar. The rejection of faith or "other" means to knowledge is a consequence, and leads to atheism. Do you see the point? Bill P The point you have been making has already been clarified in the discussion. I agree with you that her reason led her to reject faith. She claimed that objectivism can't be reconciled with religion. The discussion was about a poster claiming that (I'm paraphrasing) objectivism can be a helpful tool in seeing the good in religion, and it was that statement I debated because imo Rand's philosophy contradicts it. And according to Barbara Branden, the primary (reason) and its corollary (rejection of faith), was and remained the philosophical issue most important to Rand.
  17. It obviously WAS a major theme. Barbara Branden wrote: "The absolutism of reason with its corollary, the rejection of faith, was, and remained, the philosophical issue most important to Ayn." (end quote) (Source: The passion of Ayn Rand, chapter "The Fountainhead", p. 165). Because one person who was very close to her expressed an opinion makes this statement correct >>>>"It obviously WAS a major theme." Why because Barbara said so? Ok now what do we do with that piece of hearsay testimonial testimony? It is a non sequitur. Adam Have you read her book? Barbara B. was - and is - one of the key figures in the objectivist movement and was VERY close to Rand. This is a fact. This gives her statement far more weight than mere hearsay. Therefore if you believe that what she said about Ayn's rejection of faith is wrong, would you please provide quotes from fellow objectivists (on the same level as her) claiming the contrary.
  18. Barbara Branden's book on Rand is a very interesting source.
  19. Will you give me a quote from Rand that you regard as an oversimplification?
  20. Have you read Barbara Branden's biography on Rand? It looks like she got to know Ayn's marriage very, very well.
  21. It obviously WAS a major theme. Barbara Branden wrote: "The absolutism of reason with its corollary, the rejection of faith, was, and remained, the philosophical issue most important to Ayn." (end quote) (Source: The passion of Ayn Rand, chapter "The Fountainhead", p. 165).
  22. The heroines Dominique and Dagny clearly show characteristics of sexual sadomasochism, no question. There are many scenes in both novels where this sticks out a mile. And the heros have a sexually sadistic streak. Keep in mind that Rand's agenda as a writer was to present her heros as role models to emulate by her followers. And those heros/heroines have been uncritically accepted by the Randists?
  23. Could it be that Rand gave Frank hero status to justify him as her husband? For when you you compare the heros in her book to Frank, they differ completely imo. They are unempathetic (Roark is even a rapist!), cold, unfeeling, contemptuous (they mostly run around with a "mocking, derisive smile" on their faces), are often geniuses who excel at everything, etc. In short, they are everything Frank was not. He was a gentle, affable man with an artistic talent, but also conflict-shy and suffering from low self-esteem. Xray, To give you an honest answer on that, I'd have to read Fountainhead in it's entirety. I've only read excerpts from one of the books (can't remember which offhand...but it was a chapter that used parts of Fountainhead to explain issues such as ethics, iirc.) I did read the rape scene years ago, but it didn't come across as brutal or life-destroying, or even exertion of power. It came across as him taking what he wanted through desire and lust. Again without reading it in its entirety, I don't want to misconstrue the message Ayn was giving. As for Roark (and other heroes), I would say that Frank was their essence, not a carbon copy...otherwise it'd be Frank O'Connor, not Roark, Galt, etc. But I certainly can't explain away the lack of empathy that might come across in her characters, in your view. ~ Shane But Frank was the exact opposite of the Randian heros. It was Ayn who was the queen of the castle in that marriage.
  24. That would interest me too. For Rand's definition of "value" = "something one acts to gain or keep" says nothing about what the value is. For e. g. the Marxist, the "value he acts to gain or keep" is the dictature of the proletariat. For the Christian, it is the promised resurrection of the flesh, etc. Sure, in the history of mankind, there have always been attempts to declare the values of a specific ideology as allegedly "objective" and impose them on others. Those who openly disagreed were risking their lives. Still happens today in many places all over the world. But the declaraton of a value as objective does not make it so. So what is an objective value? What qualifies "an objective value" as one common set for all, without exception (for this is the strict requirement for it be "objective")? The example of the nihilist has already disproved Rand's claim that the only objective value is one's life. The one common set for all here clearly does not apply to the nihilist.
  25. Rand speaks of "the only objective value", one's life. A nihilist may state that "the only objective value" is never to be born at all. Imo the truth is that both values claimed to be objective are merely subjective choices.