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Everything posted by Xray

  1. I that the first time one has shown up here?
  2. Watch out - I happen to be member of PETA and will protect that cat. But the cat won't need protection when I think about it - it would fight back enough if you tried to tie anything to its tail ...
  3. I'm from Germany and no native speaker of English - what is the famous saying? I wasn't discarding the phrase. A tautology is a fairly complex language phenomenon, open to interpretation. For example, It can be used for reasons of emphasis. .What exactly of the concept was left out? As for "brush-aside", this is not my cup of tea at all. On the contrary, I'm a 'leave no stone unturned' type and want get to the bottom of things. "Existence exists" is on the same level as e. g. saying "Live lives". So if anyone here wrote "Life lives", would you think they used a correct phrase? A phrase is always with meaning to the person who uses it, however "nonsensical" it may sound to others at first glance. Clarifying avoids misunderstandings.
  4. "Bullet is bulllet" is a tautology. You think Rand meant "Existence exists" in a tautological sense too: "Existence is existence", so to speak?
  5. It is a very real question indeed, and that's what ethics is about. It looks like the journalist who went to jail had more courage than the other, especially since he could not even know whether he would ONLY be imprisoned - for he might as well have been tortured and killed. But unless we know more about his motives, all we can do is speculate. The other journalist may be perceived as having betrayed the rights of the oppressed citizens by cowtowing to the dictators, writing articles supporting them. One is inclined to think his primary interest was saving his hide, but again, what drove him to do this we don't know. He may have had a large family to support and felt he could not let them down, etc. Imo self-interest motivates us all 100 per cent of the time. The one one who went to jail for example may have found the idea unbearable to be considered "a coward".
  6. I see what you mean. In the bench example, it makes no sense to switch the standard in mid-activity to because then the pieces of the bench won't fit together. Still, one might decide (even in mid-activity) to switch the standard of length for measurement, but this would mean one has to start all over again. For example, I could decide in mid-activity to switch from 'yards' to 'meters' but then I'll have to cut the wood pieces anew. This is why I have problem with the word "invariant absolute" here. For we can change our standards. The key word is "chosen". For indeed, standards of value always imply that these standards have to be chosen, and a 'choice' is always subjective. Another key element: for herself. Like you said, it was her personally chosen standards. It doesn't matter whether she called her philosophy Objectivsm - the standards of value she selected for herself were her personal choice. Who does the categorizing from which I then choose? So per Rand, the "second-handers" don't do the litmus test on what is being served to them, since the "WHO" says something is more important to them than WHAT is being said? Another variable to be considered in that context: N. Branden himself may have acted as a "second-hander" here, mirroring Rand's own disapproval of the way the beatniks danced. I would approach the subject by asking Branden to elaborate on his chosen "standard of mental health" and then ask him to explain why he thinks dancing like that is detrimental to it.
  7. So it was Ayn Rand who chose the objectivist standard of values, and once chosen, it is regarded as an invariant absolute? In terms of quantity, it is fairly clear. It gets difficult when it comes to quality. I'd like to discuss those objective quality standards. For example, Nathaniel Branden writes in his essay "The Psychology of Pleasure" (1964, in the The Virtue of Selfihsness, pb, p. 71-78)), about the pleasures appropriate or inappropriate for the "rational, psychologically healthy man". So everyone who danced like that got the thumbs down from Rand and Branden because they "know" it is no "authenic enjoyment" and these people are purposeless, mindless, senseless? Frankly, I have read similar lectures on the "wrongl" way to dance in Jehova's Witnesses' brochures. Branden also uses the word "crippled" in combinaton with lesbian ("crippled lesbian"). What "objective" standards of values are these?
  8. I have read The Fountainhead, The Virtue of Selfishness and have just started with her magnum opus Atlas Shrugged. Of works about Rand, I have read Barbara Branden's The Passion of Ayn Rand. The Q&A section on this site is very informative too. The impression I have so far is that while Rand advocates indivdualism, she is very dogmatic, for example in deciding what an "objective" value is.
  9. Xray, This depends on your standard of epistemology. The power to make a choice (and to value) is not the same thing as identifying something correctly. Michael By what criteria does one identify something correctly? It is fairly easy when it comes to correctly identifying e. g. a chair, but as for abstracts as "values", how does it work?
  10. So it looks like what considers a "value" is basically a subjective choice. Thanks for for the welcome, Michael. I'm from Germany and didn't know about Ayn Rand until two years ago during a discussion on atheism. But aren't those "standards of value" subjective choices too? Person A's standards of value may differ from person B's and C's, etc.
  11. The word "sacrifice" is a big topic in Rands writings. She is downnright obsessed with the term. "Sacrifice is the surrender of a greater value for the sake of a lesser value", she writes in "The Virtue of Selfishness". But is it? Isn't the exact opposite the case? What exactly is a sacrifice? It is an act directed by something which the person peforming the act considers as a greater value then that which is sacrificed. Imo there is NO exception to this principle. . Whether it was ancient tribes sacrificing animals or humans to the gods (the origin of the term refers to a religious act [from Latin "sacer" (holy) and "facere" (to do)], whether it is people sacrificing a good time of their lives caring for their ailing parents, whether it is the suicidal terrorist causing a plane to crash, or whether my colleague offers to take over an undesirable job instead of me, sacrificing her free time, or whether one "sacrifices" a pawn in a chess game because one wants to gain one of his opponent's figures of higher status or another strategic advantage through the act - whatever the sacrifice is, ALWAYS the motive is present to gain a higher value. Ayn Rand claims that the frustration of a desire is a "sacrifice". But does that qualify as sacrifice? A feeling of frustration because a desire has not been fulfilled?? Isn't there a crucial element of the term sacrifice missing here? Rand (in TVOS, pb. page 33) theorizes that (I'm paraphrasing a bit) when Jim robs John of his car, John is being sacrificed, and Jim too. Imo neither John nor Jim are being sacrificed through this act. Does anyone here think they are? If yes, why?
  12. Classic example of blind leader followership without using one's brain. My guess is the total number of those who started smoking because of Rand (or did not think of quitting because Rand advocated smoking) was quite high.
  13. Imo Rand's construction "selfishness vs. altruism" is an artificial opposition. "Selfishness" (I prefer to call it self-interest) is present in every human being 100 percent of the time, for if it weren't, we wouldn't be able to survive for a single day. Self-interest is a necessary survival tool. It is neither a virtue nor a vice - it is what it is. Biologically, we are mammals living in groups. The fact that in the course of evolution, our brain has developed so highly does not change this basic fact Imo our biological heritage does pose a hurdle because of the pack structure (with a group leader) we have always been living in. Hence people's susceptibility to follow an authority, a leader and submit to the leader's wishes, whether it is the sandbox bully of a kids' group, a political leader, an ideological guru or a god - the mechanism is basically the same.
  14. Modified insofar as the problem of mutually exclusive definitions complicates issues. For instance, you may hear e. g. an atheist tell you "I reject any metaphysical concepts", meaning it in the sense of the above quote (= I reject the idea of transcendence). Whereas Rand uses the term in the sense of "that which pertains to reality". What is Rand's idea of metaphysical relativism?
  15. Correct. The history of the term 'metaphysical' goes back to a classification of Aritstotle's writings. But in the course of philosophical history, the term took on a new meaning. This Wikepedia article sums it up quite well:
  16. But the meaning of "metaphysics" is the exact opposite of "reality". The Greek prefix "meta" means 'beyond', therefore 'meta'physics refers to what is beyond, what transcends (the physical) reality. Religions for example are based on a metaphysical concept (transcendence).
  17. Correct. For indeed, attributing benevolence (or malevolence) to "the universe" is projecting qualities of sentient beings into what is clearly NOT a sentient being.