studiodekadent

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  1. I don't know how you translate "first and primary" into ONLY, but there it is. It would be an interesting project to hammer together Rand's criteria for axiomatic concepts and come up with a list of some of those that follow the first three. Michael (EDIT: On a personal note, if there is that little guy in your brain freaking out, going, "Oh my God, I'm wrong, I'm wrong! How can that be? There has to be some mistake! I have to find something that shows...! I don't know...! How can I possibly face this and survive? Woe is me! Woe is me!" and blah blah blah, just shoot him. Go ahead. Shoot him. Shoot him dead. You are way more valuable than what he wants. That's from me and I'm sure many around here feel the same about you. I listened to that little sucker for years and he is the No. 1 reason that held me back when I should have known better. It's OK to get shit wrong at times. I still do and I probably will until I die, But that little sucker always tries to rise like Lazarus. Then I have to shoot him again. It took years, but at least I'm starting to get some pleasure out of it. .) MSK,Alright, you got me. Mea Culpa. That said, we both know Rand wasn't always consistent with using terminology. For instance, she often conflated "altruism" (which she typically uses in a Comtean sense) with "selflessness" (which I think is a broader category... "live for others" is altruism, "live for god" is selfless but it isn't Comtean altruism specifically). With respect to the issue of axioms, it still seems clear from the quote that even if Rand may have been using axiom more broadly, she does regard the "big three" as a more fundamental "tier" of axioms... the irreducible primaries. So, even if I might be technically incorrect about Rand's use of the term "axiom," she DID regard the "big three" as an higher tier of axiom.I do, however, think we need to be careful with use of "axiom" as a term. I've ran into several instances where the meaning of the term has gotten confused (I covered this is my masters thesis since Objectivist Metaphysical Axioms =/= Austrian Axioms =/= Axiom-As-Defined-In-Dopfer-Potts).
  2. Depends on what you mean by "objectification." There are generally two ways it is used. One is referring to someone being an object of sexual gratification. There's nothing wrong with this, and, as you said, men and women both do this in terms of sex and sexual attraction. Of course you're attracted to her legs, butt, boobs, whatever. And of course she's attracted to your body, face, penis, butt, whatever. And both can enjoy that, no problem. Anyone who says there is something wrong with that is nuts. But there's another sense in which women can and have been objectified, and it may not have anything to do with sex. In many cultures, women have been viewed as possessions, prizes, or otherwise property of men, their husbands, or future husbands. Anytime a woman is treated as an object in this way -- a possession instead of a person -- then it's a problem. And yes -- it's sexist. By the way, it also is the chief reason why men strike out with women and are unable to be attractive to many women. When a guy communicates with a woman as though she's a prize to be won, then in the process of that objectification he also subconsciously communicates that he is of less value than she is, and vice versa, that she is of more value than he is. And contrary to opinion, women may enjoy the perks of having a male fawn over her and make attempts at impressing her and "winning the prize" (she might get free dinner and drinks), but she definitely won't be sexually attracted to that kind of guy. A woman is much more likely to be attracted to a guy who consistently treats her as a person, not higher or lower than he is as a human being, and who doesn't "objectify" her by treating her like a prize he hopes to be worthy of. I think a lot of people miss that in discussions like these. So to recap: The same word "objectification" is usually used in two different concepts -- one of those concepts is good, one is bad. There's also a third meaning, although it is a similar concept. "Objectify" is also used to describe seeing/treating someone as a means to an end rather than as an end in themselves (to use the Kantian phrase)... to treat them or present them as if their existence is only justified by service to some greater end. You could argue that this broader kind of objectification is essentially altruism as Rand understood it. And under that standard, I think both traditional gender roles count as objectifying since both of them were based in making people serve the community's need for population growth (hence women must bear children, men must be protector/providers). They forced people to suppress individuality in the name of the group. And Mike V, thank you for the feedback!
  3. MSK, It is probably me not explaining myself very well here. I apologize. Also, I'm not trying to say "Mises is better than Rand" or anything. Remember that I disagree with Mises on epistemology. What I am saying is that Rand's three axioms, whilst they all pass the self-refuting-denial test, aren't the ONLY propositions which pass the self-refuting-denial test. I think we both agree here. So, what separates Rand's three axioms from the other propositions which pass the self-refuting-denial test? Logical irreducibility. Rand's axioms ARE irreducible, but other things which pass the self-refuting-denial test (for example, the axiom of human action, or the existence of time) are NOT irreducible. They presuppose Rand's axioms. This is why Rand's axioms are the ONLY axiomatic concepts within Objectivism. That is all I am saying.
  4. MSK, I think you misread me. I apologize for any lack of clarity above. Basically, Rand's understanding of an "axiom" is a logically irreducible concept... something which all claims to knowledge inevitably presuppose. You can't logically prove them, since logic assumes the axioms. You confuse Rand's narrow use of "axiom" with a wider use of the term... i.e. a concept which is self-refuting to deny. Rand DID argue that the axioms she postulated were self-refuting to deny, true, but just because she accepted that a characteristic of her axioms was that the denial of them was self-refuting, that doesn't mean she argued the essential characteristic of her axioms was that they were self-refuting. Let's take, for example, Mises' Axiom Of Human Action. It is self-refuting to deny it, since to deny it requires you act teleologically (i.e. act with the aim of denying it). But whilst the Axiom of Human Action is self-refuting to deny, it isn't logically irreducible. It presupposes the existence of human beings, it presupposes that these human beings have a specific nature, and it presupposes that we have a means by which we ascertain what that specific nature is (Existence, Identity, Consciousness). So, in short, Rand's three metaphysical axioms are distinguished by the fact they're the unavoidable preconditions of any claim to knowledge. A fact which is self-refuting to deny isn't necessarily a logically irreducible fact. If this doesn't clarify, maybe I should do a Venn Diagram?
  5. MSK, I was responsible for sending Alexei here, just for the record. Send all blame this way. I hate to do this but I must object slightly to "The hallmark of an axiomatic concept in the Randian system is that you have to use it to be able to deny it, thereby you automatically validate it." On the basis of the quoted statement you then go on to say that "Those axiomatic concepts (existence, identity and consciousness) are the big three, but not the only ones." You're confusing two different ways in which "axiom" is used. I know of three different meanings: 1 - "a statement unquestioned during analysis," 2 - "a statement which is self-refuting to deny," 3 - "a logically irreducible fact which is implicitly assumed by every possible claim to knowledge." You're conflating Type 2 Axioms (self-refuting denial) with Type 3 Axioms. Yes, there are more than three Type 2 Axioms. Mises' Axiom Of Human Action, the existence of time, etc. are both Type 2 Axiomatic since denying them will validate them (it takes a span of time to say "time does not exist," denying that individuals act teleologically requires that you act with the aim of denying the axiom that individuals act to achieve aims, etc.). But Rand was pretty consistent on using "Axiom" to refer to Type 3 Axioms. Whilst these DO pass the self-refuting denial test (and thus you can say they're a subcategory of Type 2 Axioms), their essential characteristic is that they are the assumptions of any possible claim to knowledge. Claiming to know Fact X about Entity Y presupposes that Entity Y exists (existence), that it has a specific nature of which X is true (identity), and that the person making the claim is capable of observing/perceiving Entity Y (consciousness). I've noticed that often this conflation between Type 2 and Type 3 Axioms occurs in libertarian circles. This is probably due to the prevalance of the self-refuting denial test amongst Misesian-Rothbardians, as well as the fact that Rand herself used the self-refuting denial test to validate her Axioms as true. But still, the point is that self-refuting-denial is a lower threshold compared to presupposition-of-any-claim-to-knowledge.
  6. Rand was rather inconsistent on traditional gender roles, but overall her philosophy seems to inevitably reject the idea they are morally normative. Gender roles are based on gender essentialism, which is predicated on epistemological essentialism, which Rand opposed. If someone wants to accept traditional gender roles that is fine, but that's another question. Not only that but she said in her Playboy interview pretty consistently that what is good for a man is good for a woman, and women should have career aspirations and the like. She clearly considered family a choice, not a duty. She didn't abide by traditional femininity either, but this is where her inconsistency arises. Rand grew up in a cultural context which saw intelligence as "masculine," and she more or less defined herself by her intellect (Barbara Branden's book goes into the subject and points out how the only approval Rand got as a child was due to her intellect). So she was forced into a pretty nasty position where she had to choose between her source of self-esteem/identity/pride and her gender identity (which was often questioned because she was smart, which socially defeminized her). As I see it, her fetish for ravishment sex and that kind of thing was an attempt for her to balance the two needs out. She wanted to feel properly feminine, yet on the other hand she wanted to retain her pride and self-worth and dignity as an intelligent person. The solution? Red-Sonja-style 'rape' fantasies! She gets to be an awesome worthy badass brainiac AND get ravished like a "proper" woman. And even better, the REASON she gets ravished like a "proper" woman is BECAUSE she was an awesome worthy badass brainiac (thus turning being ravished into a validation of her self-worth). That's a win-win on her part. I mean, whilst I broadly agree with the idea that one's choice in bedmate/s should reflect one's values in some way, Rand's whole "noble hunter seeks worthy quarry" thing is pretty obviously her own sexual psychology with philosophical justifications grafted onto it. And she's entitled to her sexual psychology. Where she really went wrong was in trying to make her kinks morally normative. Anyway, Rand's entire thought complex on sex and gender needs to be understood in the context of a gender-atypical cisgender woman trying to validate both her femininity and the moral worthiness of her gender-atypical virtues. Some people have raised the possibility that Rand wasn't cisgender... Chris Sciabarra once speculated (just speculated, mind you) that Rand may have been a gay man trapped in a woman's body. It is an interesting hypothesis, but I'm inclined to disagree with that, because Rand clearly had an extremely strong attachment to her femaleness (and a desire to have her femininity validated). So it seems that Rand was suffering the Nerd Chick's Dilemma - smart women feel socially defeminized. Interestingly enough, male Objectivists are typically male nerds, and since the culturally normative ideal of masculinity is based principally in physical strength (and historically has always been - of course Aristotle would argue that the best thing that someone can be is a philosopher but that was just his vanity and not a reflection of mainstream Greek society), male Objectivists often experience something similar. I'm convinced one of the reasons for Objectivism's appeal to nerdy guys is because Objectivism is very gender-validating for men that feel they don't "measure up" to traditional standards of machoness. Digression - nerdy guys are socially emasculated, nerdy chicks are socially defeminized (to at least some degree, although it varies since feminism has made it a lot less acceptable to gender-police women but nothing comparable has happened for men). Traditional machoness is all preposterone-muscles-and-SMASH-AND-KILL and traditional femininity is all "Logic don't real, only feels!!!" So both men and women with rational, Apollonian temperments end up as being seen as not-real-men/women. Perhaps "people of the mind" are the third gender. But yeah, digression over. As I see it, Rand was not a gender conservative at all. She was actually trying to claim a socially-accepted-as-feminine identity whilst rejecting all the basic demands which that identity made on women. The ravishment kink was just her means of doing it.
  7. MSK, I think you slightly misunderstood me here. I wan't talking about those who were the unchosen unaware. On them, I agree with everything you said. I'm saying that if you argue that some people are "natural followers," which you described as being "naturally inclined" to not think (note that I'm not saying you believe these people actually exist), then I cannot see how one cannot see such a person as, well, 'faulty' in some way. I, on the other hand, don't believe some people are "naturally inclined" away from thinking. I think they can be socialized away from it (by religion and other forces), but this process can be reversed. If this is your understanding of the natural leader, then I simply don't see how one can avoid separating 'natural leaders' from bullies. And, like you, I hate bullies. (PS: I can't believe it, I actually agree with We Erred Rand here... well, with WER's basic point, not with WER's uncivil rhetoric)
  8. First, many of Rand's haters haven't read her. They go on out-of-context exerpts and regurgitated stereotypes (or, unfortunately, on negative experiences with Orthodox Randians). It is disturbingly rare to find a Rand critic that has really read her and practiced proper interpretive charity. And typically, those that DO will not be anywhere NEAR as vitriolic or vicious as those that haven't. Second, Rand makes many points that, when calmly explained, even a lot of leftists agree with, especially counterculture leftists. Representing her honestly thus weakens the conviction of many leftists, so the left's intellectual leaders often have an incentive to avoid honest representation. So the intellectual dishonesty is utterly rife. It is driven by a desire to "contain" the "poison" - the goal is to obfuscate what Objectivism argues. Look at how often discussions of Objectivism are derailed into discussions of Ayn Rand's personality. Because if you talk about Rand's personality you can avoid confronting her ideas. Allegations of alleged hypocrisy (like "she paid taxes!" or "she took social security!") allow people to avoid confronting her ideas. Discussing nasty behavior of online Randroids allows people to dodge the bullet and not talk about what Rand argued. The less that people actually discuss Objectivism, the better for Objectivism's enemies. They deliberately cultivate ignorance and stereotypes to avoid having to substantively deal with Objectivism's arguments.
  9. MSK,That is a very good approach and I agree. Some people's cognitive capacities ARE damaged, and denouncing them and condemning them is not going to lead them to virtue. I agree with you that a more productive approach is to encourage thought rather than preoccupy oneself with condemning evaders. There is a lot to say for trying to bring good into the world rather than spend one's time just taking evil out of it. That said, in the context of what we have talked about, I find it unsettling to believe that some people are "naturally" predisposed to not think for themselves (and are therefore "natural followers"). I agree people can be cognitively damaged into such a state, absolutely. But "naturally" seems to imply that, well, some people just "can't help it." They CAN'T "get better." That said, you are a biosocial interactionist so I think you would agree with me that there is no such thing as a truly helpless case.
  10. MSK, I'm going to refrain from giving a full discussion of your post and the issues it raises, principally because it is off-topic for this thread. But I will note some broad areas of agreement and disagreement. First, we are both biosocial interactionists who accept free will. In other words, we both agree that Nature, Nurture and Volition are all relevant factors that need to be taken into account. On that, we agree, however we may differ as to the "balance" between the three factors, and maybe we disagree as to the way the factors interact with each other. However, roughly speaking we're in the same camp. Second, I think the concept of "natural leaders" is often extremely fuzzy and unclear in the first place and the notion deserves some extensive interrogation. Issues like Expertise Vs. Authority (see Sharon Presley's work on the subject), contextual positioning within an hierarchy, differentiating between assertiveness and dominance, and the role of prejudices and biases in the concept all play a role. For instance, physical appearance plays a huge factor - a shorter man with an assertive nature is often called "pushy" or "bossy" while a taller man with an assertive nature is often called a "natural leader." I'm not alleging you disagree with my second point. I'm simply pointing out we're dealing with a complex and multifaceted notion here. Thirdly, I think we should be careful especially as to how this notion can be abused. From rationalizing (or appearing to rationalize) school bullying (which is one of the reasons I disagreed with Adam) to the Fuhrerprinzip, you can't doubt that there is a significant level of danger in the notion. This only further demands it be handled with care. Finally, as to your point re. serial evaders being easily controlled, we absolutely agree here. Thought Does Not Bow To Authority and all that; intellectual independence is the root of all genuine assertiveness. But what I will suggest is that so-called "natural leaders" are not necessarily any less evasive or psychologically or epistemologically dependent/flawed/parasitic/screwed up than a so-called "natural follower." Anyway, whilst this discussion is technically off-topic, I think we have general common ground and are mostly wrangling over finer details here.
  11. I agree entirely. Excellent article. Let's hope it has some effect.
  12. MSK, I agree to an extent. I concede there are evolutionary remnants of lower drives, absolutely. I also agree they don't absolve people of moral responsibility. Would I go so far as to say, however, people are "wired" one way or another (this is the specific contention of Adam's I find most objectionable)? I wouldn't - I think the pack-animal-drives put people into a rank-order on a contextual basis.... person A can be at the top of an heirarchy composed of A/B/C/D whilst at the bottom of one composed of A/X/Y/Z, etc. etc. Sure, someone's other capabilities and capacities will factor into this, but I don't think the "software" (so to speak) comes in "leader" and "follower" versions. There's one version - other factors determine where someone ends up. But again, these drives are (in today's word) ultimately dangerous and counterproductive and quite frankly I consider them loathsome. And I think we basically agree here, although I use more vitriolic terms. Like you said, I agree in fostering a moral culture which encourages rational values rather than pack-animal primitivism.
  13. Adam, I'm going to have to register a very strong disagreement with this proposition. That said, given your personal kinks I am not surprised that you believe in such an hierarchialist, pack-animalistic meta-anthropology. Ayn Rand wasn't the only person with the ability to philosophically rationalize their fetishes after all. This leader/follower dichotomy is pretty much the entire approach to power relations which Rand thoroughly attacks in The Fountainhead (irrespective of Rand's little kinky 'rape' scene). Where does someone with no desire to either lead others or follow others (Roark types) fit? Where do those that reject the heirarchy fit? Those that make their own decisions for themselves, without making decisions for others? Are we freaks, or superhumans? Or perhaps both? You think people (your post mentions men particularly but it seems true of both genders, see Queen Bees and Wannabes for more) are naturally 'born' in dominant or submissive classes. I dissent - I think it is quite clearly a matter of socialization, premises and choices. The fundamental choice being whether one wishes to think for oneself or relinquish that oh-so-torturous-responsibility-of-having-to-think is quite clearly the most relevant 'choice' here. Yes, I accept that there are evolutionary remnants of pack-animal drives in human beings. But these are the worst, most primitive, disgusting and craven parts of what MSK often calls the Lizard Brain, and they enable the most vile and brutish behavior man is capable of (see E. S. Raymond's "The Myth of Man The Killer" here - http://catb.org/~esr/writings/killer-myth.html ). But let's take this conversation back to a personal note - if your theory is correct, than the multitudes of bullies I endured were just naturally acting out their bio-psychological type and that the torturous cruelty I suffered wasn't really their fault. You are absolving them of their moral responsibility. Not only that, but you are suggesting that they have natural 'victims' (quite frankly, if such a creature exists they are subhuman). And, if your theory is correct, either 1) I am in denial (your choice as to what) or 2) I do not exist. Or perhaps you were stating your theory in highly condensed terms and your actual meta-anthropology is far more nuanced than this. If so, please inform me. But as I see it, your meta-anthropology seems to be that of LaVey, not Rand. Either way, this is off topic. If you want to continue discussing this subject with me, I'd invite you to PM me on it.
  14. MSK, A good article. You know I am, admittedly, not the most charitable to Beck. But this comment isn't about Beck - rather it is a comment about you. You have never been uncritical in your admiration for Beck. You've always done your best to be fair about his pros and cons. When he makes a mistake you have always acknowledged it. This intellectual honesty is something I wish to applaud. I know you loathe the guru mentality, and I do as well. Far too often, people who are blinded by the light of a beautiful idea end up uncritically worshipping the lightbringer. And you may be a fan of Beck, but posts like these (as well as your history of nuanced assessments of him) show that you are devoid of the guru mentality. Your integrity and honesty are admirable.
  15. I'm going to address the one factual matter here. Consulting my own copy shows you are indeed correct about the order in which these events happen, my fault. Yes, I made an error as to the order of events.Even so, the fundamental point I am making is that in Atlas, Rearden experiences a character arc. A significant part of this character arc is the rejection of Protestant-Work-Ethic-style premises. The scene with Dagny and the ruby, irrespective of the order in which it occurs, is still an example of Rearden being totally okay with indulgent, luxurious consumption (frowned on by the Calvinist/Reformed/Lutheran school of thought). This is in tension with his earlier disdain for Francisco's playboy antics - again, we are seeing two contradictory premises in the character. The character arc shows Rearden eventually rejecting the Protestant-Work-Ethic (which demands unceasing labor as an end in itself). Whether or not he actually ends up spending the gold ingot on his own personal consumption is in fact irrelevant since Ragnar is a character who doesn't have any 'bad premises' - his approval of personal consumption can basically be read as an approval of it directly from Ayn Rand's mouth. Again, Dagny and Hank both have lessons to learn. Their character arcs consist of their bad premises (Rearden's own Protestant Work Ethic/Self-Denial/Sex-Guilt, and Dagny's excessive optimism/belief that the system can be fixed from within) being challenged and eventually removed. And the character arc of Hank clearly identifies that Hank's rather Calvinist-like attitudes are flaws which are eventually fixed (via his relationship with Dagny, incidentally). Whether the bar of gold or the ruby happened first isn't in fact relevant to this pattern.
  16. Dennis, Apart from the fact that I don't think Obama is a "true believer" in socialism per se, the point I am making is one of degree. I agree, social democracy is bad, we shouldn't let it in, etc. etc. All I am saying is that we should be careful to not conflate Social Democrats with State Socialists. That is all.
  17. I'm going to ignore the irrelevant insult-throwing and focus on a matter of substantiative fact: . And does he? Yes. On Dagny. That's why he at one point describes Dagny as a "luxury object." The pear-cut ruby? That's about spending money on his own pleasure. The point behind Rearden's character development is that he rejects the protestant work ethic, the idea that he's morally OBLIGED to keep working full stop. On another note, I notice you still haven't apologized for your blatant prejudice about my character.
  18. I'm normally not one to take Carol's side, but lets please all try to be precise. Today's European "Socialism" is Social Democracy, i.e. a managed-market economy ("managed-market" means a regulated market, neither are to be confused with a free market) with extensive redistribution of wealth, typically through bureaucratic management, combined with neo-Keynesian management of the financial markets through a central bank. The style of market management will often be tilted towards favoring certain kinds of parties/institutions over others (i.e. unions getting perks) for "social justice" concerns. This is scarcely a free market but we should try to be careful to remember that this is NOT State Socialism, nor is it the same as Marxism-Leninism. I don't like Social Democracy one bit but it isn't the same as Stalinism.
  19. I'm going to expand on my earlier reply by pointing out what I mean here by "incidental." A moral system is composed of plenty of different propositions. Some of these propositions are essential to the moral system, and some of these propositions are incidental to the moral system. The basic test is - if someone can disagree with a specific proposition advanced by the moral system, can they still be said to be in agreement with the overall moral system itself? If the answer is yes, we're dealing with an incidental proposition. If the answer is no, we're dealing with an essential proposition. For example, an essential proposition in Objectivist morality is that individuals should think for themselves and rely on their own rational judgment. An incidental proposition is that a woman would be psychologically defeminized by the Presidency and thus it would never be in the rational self-interest of any woman to hold such an office. Someone can reject Rand's argument about female Presidents and still be an Objectivist, but someone cannot argue against the virtue of independent thought and confidence in one's capability to make such decisions and still be an Objectivist. Now, my argument is simple - the fact that some forms of historical Christianity have encouraged thinking long-term is incidental to the moral theories of these form/s of Christianity. The early Christians typically thought that the apocalypse was imminent and so did NOT think long-term. And of course the Lillies Of The Field parable seems to encourage a lack of concern with material affairs. But lets look exclusively at Calvin and Luther - both of them held to the position of Total Depravity; the idea that Original Sin had corrupted humanity so greatly that only God's Grace could make an individual perform a virtuous action (this position is derived from St Augustine). In other words, the meta-anthropology of Reformed Christianity leads to the proposition that all virtue is the work of God, not man. It fundamentally denies individual responsibility. Obama's "you didn't build that!" line is strangely appropriate here, for if the Calvinist position is true then you didn't work hard to build your business - it was God who did it by granting you the necessary Grace. In a Reformed Christian world, virtue is just an epiphenomenon, or a sign, of being chosen by God. Indeed, given the complete denial of individual responsibility that this code of morality leads to, one might ask how on earth this could lead to a moral culture that prizes thinking long-term (which again seems irrelevant if human agency is futile and all good and evil is just the result of God's giant metaphysical coin flip... Calvinism embraces the idea that God is sovereign over everything after all). Oh wait: they sneak in this list of moral "signs" which is used to tell whether or not you've been saved! And since Calvinism is completely fucking wrong, and humans DO have agency, then if they're threatened with eternal torture and hellfire and are told that only the Super Special Elect will be Saved and that the Elect will act in X way, then yes, humans WILL endeavour to act in X way! Reformed Christianity is a marvellously-designed social control mechanism that certainly gets results, I'm not doubting this. But the accidental results of a completely lunatic meta-anthropology hardly count as justifications of that meta-anthropology, unless you're willing to argue that Lies Are Okay If They Make People Good. That is to say nothing at all about the psychological damage Calvinism and the like inflicts on its adherents... especially when you have theories of "Assurance" which argue that any doubt in your mind is proof you're Damned. All those kids brought to tears by the preachings of Hellfire sermons like "Sinners In The Hands Of An Angry God" are the tip of the iceberg. The list of "signs" used to pick who is damned or saved is irrelevant to this moral system. Any will work - sure, only a few might encourage the right long-term orientation to sustain capital formation but again, a theology is still "Calvinist" whether it embraces hard work or not. The five essential points of Calvinism (as defined by actual theological Calvinists) are - Total Depravity Unearned Election Limited Attonement Irrestable Grace Perservearance of the Saints Nowhere is "hard work" or "saving and investment" even mentioned. At best these were unintended consequences of a Calvinist cultural focus on modesty and labor as "signs" of being saved, and since people lived modestly they saved a lot of money. Lutheran theology differs somewhat from Calvinism but if there is a cultural focus on modesty/labor/etc then the results would be the same. But again, this proceeded from incidental features rather than from the actual core doctrines of the belief system. Your argument boils down to "the unintended consequences of some incidental components of a thoroughly demented belief system were at one historical point sufficient to generate larger-scale savings and investment than we had ever seen before. This justifies, in the present day, adherence to every single incidental component of the belief system as well as swallowing its ideological kool-aid."
  20. I've specified "classically liberal", too. However, the term at issue is not "liberal" but "conservative." You claimed that conservative values have gone on about the evils of greed; I corrected you, because you distorted the historical record. Again, look at historical Christianity. Calvin and Luther etc. were all against "excess" and "luxury" i.e. acquiring personal stuff. Greed is one of the seven deadly sins. Christianity is a Platonistic, Ascetic religion preaching self-denial and self-sacrifice. You are arguing an extreme paradox - that the capital formation which was an unintended consequence of a belief that excess/luxury/consumption somehow validates an entire code of morality which damns the profit motive. You are also ignoring a basic truth of economics that Mises pointed out; human action is teleological - the only reason that people produce is because people need to consume to live. A morality which damns the Ends (consumption) but praises the Means (for different reasons) is going to collapse under the weight of its own stupidity. Actually, Rand disapproved of DISHONEST and CORPORATIST greed (i.e. rent-seeking and consumer fraud). She also disapproved of greed-for-the-purposes-of-showing-off (clear case of Second-Handing (see The Fountainhead)). But she did NOT disapprove of consumption, or consumerist greed, one bit - look at the part in Atlas where Ragnar hands Rearden an ingot of gold and tells him to spend the gold exclusively on his own consumption. You may be tended to rebuke me by pointing to the fact that in the novel, Rearden holds playboy Francisco d'Anconia in contempt for being an hedonistic big-spending playboy. But, again, please note that all of Rearden's expressions of contempt happen early in the novel, BEFORE Ragnar gives him the gold and tells him to spend it on personal consumption. The point Rand is making is that Rearden's protestant-like attitudes are errors - remember that Rearden, like Dagny, is one of the characters that needs to learn over the course of the novel. Calvin approved of consistent unending labor because he believed it was a sign of being granted grace. He believed that if this labor was 'fruitful' it was a sign of "assurance" that one was a member of the Elect. This is hardly an endorsement of the Profit Motive. I'm familiar with the Weber Thesis and I strongly disagree with it (indeed my life's intellectual project is to destroy it). Weber was using the Marxist understanding of capitalism, i.e. private ownership of capital with capital-owners paying wages to workers to operate the capital in the process of production. This is a different concept to that of free markets. By the Marxist definition, which Weber was using, Fascism is capitalism. The regulatory, Keynesian, Welfare State is Capitalism. My concern is with laissez-faire. Not capitalism-as-defined-by-Marx. Oh, and Weber's thesis fails to grasp that there are plenty of 'trader peoples' in the world. The Chinese, for example! And the Confucian code of morality strongly emphasized family and prosperity and investment and industriousness... so why on earth did Europe, which was for a long time less advanced than China, manage to industrialize beforehand? Oh yes, social conservatives have never attempted to use the State to force their values on other people, ever! (note the sarcasm) Yes, the old progressive left (i.e. FDR and the like) has a long history of social engineering via coercion. Interestingly enough, the old progressive left embraced conservative social values. The religious right of today has hardly been against social engineering either. And the New Left progressives (who advocate a different ideology to the progressives of the 20s/30s) are also in favor of coercive social engineering, albiet they don't share conservative social values. A minority of people who are personally socially conservative in terms of their own lifestyle preferences and ethical beliefs oppose the use of the State to force their values on others. And good for them - I support their right to live without having other people's values forced upon them, as well. But if you think that, say, a parent beating their child generates "voluntary" moral change in the child, or that the church threatening young kids with eternal torture creates "voluntary" moral change (it counts as a credible threat, in my view, to someone that has swallowed the kool-aid), then you are frankly delusional. Horrors over new reproductive technology. And not just cloning... in-vitro fertilization was opposed too. The myth of the Tower of Babylon. The Fall of Man being caused by man's desire to eat from the tree of knowledge. Yes, how dare we desire to learn, think and know. Greek Myths of Icarus and Prometheus (Christianity was Hellenized so the Hellenic sense of life got incorporated into the religion, like it or not, and the lessons of both myths are a strong part of our moral 'received wisdom'). Galileo. Transplantation was originally opposed by the Vatican IMO. It is much easier to cite examples from the Catholics since they have a centralized heirarchy, but Protestantism is hardly immune. The campaign against the theory of Evolution, for example. The Satanic Ritual Abuse scare of the 80's didn't oppose any new scientific discoveries but the idea of Satan being alive and active in our world clearly counts as a religious superstition that sabotages a scientific worldview. And his objections are based exclusively on feelings of disgust. He openly admits no rational arguments beyond "ewww, icky! My feels!" And I think he's opposed 'designer babies' as well but if you have a citation where he approves of that I'd like to see it. The "incidental" component being industriousness, future-orientedness, and that institutions that support it: family, children, etc. Read Max Weber's work on the Protestant Work Ethic. He didn't think it these things were incidental. I agree with him. Apparently, so did Ludwig von Mises, a secular Jew. And I agree with him, too.Again, I don't see how family, children etc. necessitate your absurdly narrow frozen abstraction of what 'family' and 'children' entail. But the question Mises was addressing was the conditions which enabled industrialization, and industrialization is not the same thing as a free market. Mises was a secular Jew - therefore he wasn't someone that accepted the values he believed functioned as a sufficient condition for enabling Europe's industrialization. This quote of yours absolutely, completely, betrayed your rampant and filthy prejudice. You characterize my attitude as follows: I agree it happened to have worked historically, but I personally don't like these aspects of Christianity . . . . because it interferes with fun stuff I like to do, such as have lots of promiscuous sex with lots of people of both genders because, hey, sex is enjoyable! In other words, in this quote, you are accusing me of being a promiscuous bisexual. At no time in this discussion, or in any single post anywhere else on OL, have I ever stated anything at all about what my sexual preference may or may not be. Nor have I ever implied anything at all about my level of sexual activity in real life. I don't believe that the gender/s of people one prefers to sleep with is a moral factor. Nor do I believe promiscuity is inherently wrong, and I don't see why polyamory is a bad thing. But none of this leads to the conclusion that I am a promiscuous bisexual. I support the legalization of heroin too, but I have no desire whatsoever to consume heroin. The leap from "doesn't morally condemn nonheterosexual persons and doesn't consider monogamy morally imperative" to "is personally nonheterosexual and non-monogamous" was made entirely by you. So, why did you make that? Because of literal prejudice, i.e. you judged me without any relevant evidence. And since you obviously consider non-monogamy and non-heterosexuality to be morally wrong (on the basis of your previous posts), you are morally condemning me without having any evidence that your assumptions about me are correct in the first place (and this is to say nothing about the validity of your moral evaluations of nonheterosexuality and non-monogamy). This is prejudice, and as MSK said it is extremely close to outright bigotry. It is not only offensive but it is completely unsupported by the facts - you have no factual basis to make these allegations. Withdraw them immediately. I'm going by the Wikipedia summary here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Conflict_of_Visions If the summary is wrong, please fix Wikipedia (and reference your copy) and inform me of the changes. Okay, then please make sure you alter the Wikipedia summary, which describes the Unconstrained Vision as premised on the idea of innate human goodness which can be perfected through social institutions. And this little bit about "the self-anointed" which clearly links the Unconstrained Vision with Elitism... how do you explain the elitism/heirarchialism in institutions which reject the Unconstrained Vision like most Christian churches? Calvinist theology believes in a natural elite chosen by God (the Elect)... oh wait, as you said Sowell grants his system is flawed which really brings us to the question... what use does his system have when he concedes it has a very large number of faults and falsifying instances? An arbitrary assertion backed up by my experiences. I know gay people, I know bisexual people, I know polyamorous people, and in my experience there is zero meaningful difference. Big deal, they like dudes/chicks/both, so f**king what? And this idea that gay men have a lower Marginal Propensity To Save? Gay men especially are disproportionately wealthy creative professionals (both savers/investors AND part of the Creative Class). If anything they'd have more money in the bank, to be lent out as business loans and thus to permit capital investment. And your evidence for this comes from Focus On The Family. A totally unbaised source. Eyeroll. Marriage is a contract and contracts can only be entered into between consenting adults, so there is a built-in limiting principle which prevents one from marrying one's household pet. As for incestuous marriage, I find it gross and disturbing, but if it is between CONSENTING ADULTS I find it difficult to say it should be illegal. I would consider it disgusting for sure, and likely immoral. But immoral and illegal are different matters. Do I want to live in a society where other people's feelings of disgust control what is legal or illegal? Hell no. That's just the Tyranny of the Majority. And what Rand 'felt' about homosexuality is irrelevant. That said, I'd be willing to wager money that if she grew up with modern sexual mores, she'd be a raving slash fangirl... I submit Chris Sciabarra's Ayn Rand, Homosexuality and Human Liberation and its chapter "Male Bonding In The Randian Novel" as my evidence. I agree in abstract, but that says nothing about whether or not homosexuality is 'deviant' (it is statistically deviant, i.e. atypical, but that isn't the same as morally deviant), nor does it say anything at all about what set of norms are desirable.
  21. Are you really surprised? We Erred Rand thinks that a Focus On The Family website counts as an unbiased source. We Erred Rand has a conservative ideological axe to grind. Given WER's response to me (which I shall be addressing), I find it very hard to resist coming to the conclusion that WER is an absolute bigot.
  22. I did not repeat the same imprecision. You are refusing to deal with my argument. I have already stated that I do not regard middle America and "the rural poor" as synonymous. The fact you keep, repeatedly throughout your entire reply, refusing to unbundle the two when I already have displays the fact that you're being fundamentally dishonest. You are treating the political categories of the contemporary United States as eternal and unfixed. Not to mention you're reinforcing a stale, irrational false dichotomy. When I use "liberal" I mean classically liberal. Throughout this entire discussion I've reiterated this. Is the Catholic Church progressive-left? Protestant Christianity has always condemned greed as well - just because Calvin thought that tireless labor was a sign of Grace doesn't mean he endorsed greed. And Progressivism has a long history of social conservatism (Prohibition, for one) as well as religionism. Please discard your presentist bias. I never said that there weren't plenty of anti-technological sentiments on the left. There clearly are! What I said was that fundamentally, the values of social conservatism are anti-tech and anti-science. Social conservatives often express horror and revulsion at biotech (Leon Kass is a great example). So do leftists too (esp. when talking about genetically modified crops) but that isn't relevant - as I have repeatedly emphasized, romanticism exists on both sides of the left-right divide. The real debate is not between the left and the right, but rather Enlightenment values versus Pre-Enlightenment/Counter-Enlightenment values. The point I am making is that the capital formation necessary to commence industrialization was an unintentended consequence of an incidental component of values promoted by historical Christianity (not just historical Christianity either, you can find them in plenty of the Hellenic philosophers). This scarcely justifies the entire code of values. The Sowell thesis is highly oversimplified, and yes I am familiar with it. Sowell's argument is that the left believe in absolute social constructivism, and that the right believe in a specific human nature. I believe in a specific human nature too, but what you are leaving out is that conservative social values have a specific picture of what human nature actually is. Sowell conflates accepting the right's conception of human nature with accepting the existence of human nature. Sowell also ignores that historically, the left often were essentialist (i.e. believing in a definite human nature) - the early progressive movement (the one of the 20's and 30's) clearly accepted biological essentialism to justify their racialist policies. You are smuggling a huge number of package-deals into things like "marriage," "fidelity," "family" and "children." None of these, by themselves, necessitate social conservatism. Someone can be polyamorous and homosexual and still have a marriage (perhaps a marriage between three or four people), practice fidelity to that marriage, have a family (composed of blood relatives as well as marriage partners and their relatives), and raise children or help out with the raising of children within their extended family. You are implicitly assuming that the only kind of family structure consistent with "concern for the long term" is lifelong monogamous heterosexual marriage (and relationships with others that are lifelong monogamous heterosexual spouses), perhaps marriages sanctified by a Christian church, with biological children being raised. This, quite frankly, is absolutely untrue. Plenty of unconventional family structures are consistent with concern for the long term. I know people with very alternative family structures, or even no family at all, and they are invariably concerned with the long term. Read the works of Luther or Calvin. They had no room for pride, self-interest or independent thought. Calvin's entire theology denies individual moral responsibility for anything at all, and both himself and Luther had hideously twisted versions of Original Sin. A Protestant family in Fargo that practices pride, self-interest and independent thought is practicing these values in spite of their religion, not because of it. Which isn't really a surprise, the vast majority of religious people are hypocrites to varying degrees, but if a value system's survival and flourishing is due to hypocrisy then this really is a fantastic condemnation of that value system. Again, presentist bias. The relationship is incidental rather than doctrinal. If public schools taught abstainance-only sex education and Intelligent Design theory, the roles would be reversed. "Obviously?" Really? I don't see why swinging would weaken a family bond. Polyamory is about the FORMATION of a family bond, albiet a nontraditional one. Same-sex marriage is the same; how does it weaken family bonds to form a legally-sanctioned family bond with a member of the same sex? As for early-childhood sex-ed, it depends on what you mean by "early" but I don't see how teaching teens to use birth control, or to masturbate, weakens family bonds. Yes, how terrible it is that people see sexuality as a source of joy, happiness, fulfillment and satisfaction. What is wrong with self pleasure? How does self pleasure work against thinking long-term? No necessary connection. "Sex Is For Fun" has no logical connection to "the State's role is to subsidize Sex For Fun and to take responsibility for the negative consequences of irresponsible sexual behavior (such as unwanted pregnancies or STDs." And that said, sex-change operations are a totally different matter to sexual behavior. Transsexual persons are people who's neuroanatomy is opposingly-sexed to the anatomy of the rest of their body (they've done autopsies on transsexuals which back this up). And yes, developmental atypicalities like this can occur and do occur. There's a whole spectrum of it... people like Intersexuals, who are born with ambiguous genitalia or certain biological aspects of both males and females (for instance: Complete Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome, which results in a chromosomally-male fetus (i.e. XY Karotype) not getting masculinized in the womb by Androgens, and the result being an anatomically-female (but sterile) woman, typically slender-hipped, and these women grow up universally with a feminine gender identity). This is a completely different issue to that of sexual behavior. This betrays your narrow focus. You seem to think there are only two competing value systems out there. In fact, there are several. Perhaps we need an empirical study on this: "do individuals with socially conservative values save and invest larger amounts of money than individuals with socially liberal values?" would be a fantastic research question. And then you'd have to control for various effects like income - wealthier persons save and invest more than less wealthy persons irrespective of their value system. But without some hard data, you're just making assumptions. I know plenty of people with socially liberal values and they don't seem to be averse to saving and investing at all. Nor do you have to give up being counter-culture to start a business. Indeed, counter-cultures can be fantastic business opportunities. Business and commerce are not inherently socially conservative. I doubt that a shop selling bondage gear would be hailed as an example of honest enterprise by religious conservatives. Perhaps because for the vast majority of human history the dominant belief systems are religionist, mystical and altruist. Modernity is a relatively recent concept. And since tyrannical statism is by definition socially-illiberal, this reinforces my case. Because they are societies with almost no cultural individualism - my argument is that cultural individualism is necessary for economic evolution (i.e. innovation/entrepreneurship), and that Japan and China's economic growth would not have happened without the West's relative cultural individualism and consequent economic dynamism. So, contracting the freedom of taxpayers (via poaching money from them to fund farm subsidies) is NOT going to sabotage "more free markets," but expanding freedom of association and freedom of contract to embrace same-sex civil marriage somehow WILL sabotage "more free markets" by diminishing capital accumulation? Really? Need I mention that these farmers and their lobby groups also frequently invoke Romanticism to justify their subsidies? I once read an interview with a former head of the USDA (I think) saying that farm subsidies are about "funding a value system" (i.e. the value system of rural people). Okay, and I can point to several people on the left that hate Obama's drone strikes. I can point to a wide number of historical leftists that opposed gun control. Yes, "left" and "right" are not monolithic (although you treat the "left" as such). The point I am making is that supporters of conservative social values hardly embrace laissez-faire. The belief in defending one's homeland is hardly consistent with an Hawkish foreign policy. Okay, so why has it taken so long for Republicans to start even looking at reducing immigration restrictions? It took an electoral defeat of a candidate who said he'd make illegals "self-deport." You can't honestly say that hostility to illegal immigation is entirely due to the "illegal" part, especially considering the nativism and outright racism that some on the right have displayed at times (yes, I'm aware it exists on the left too, that isn't the point though). This is irrelevant. The point I am making was that outlawing sex, porn and drug markets is by-definition anti-free-market, and routinely favored by many on the right, for moral reasons. In other words, their values lead to anti-free-market conclusions.
  23. MSK, Im trying to read Carol charitably here, but I think all she is saying is that Sarah Palin comes off as uneducated and, well, not particularly well-exposed to a very wide variety of different cultures and places. Now, I know this is anything but proof of being stupid. I know plenty of "educated" people I consider extremely stupid and/or fundamentally demented. And I don't think Sarah Palin is illiterate, but (again, reading Carol charitably) I think that by "never read a book in her life" Carol was speaking metaphorically. And in my experience, Sarah Palin DOES come off as uneducated (or at least not thoroughly intellectual) and not exactly a 'well-traveled' person with a wide breadth of experiences. This doesn't make her a bad person, nor does it make her stupid. But, frankly, it does give her a cultural feel which not everyone likes. I freely admit I am a bit of an intellectual snob (this is NOT to be confused with elitism - the distinction being that elitists think the 'superior' class has the right to make decisions on behalf of the 'inferior' class, and I do not believe that) (and again, to make it clear, my intellectual snobbery works on intelligence, not educated-ness... plenty of "educated" people are not intelligent as I understand it). Sarah Palin is anything but the kind of person I'd like to sit and have a drink and discussion with (at least at first impression... and for all I know her religionism might mean she'd try and exorcize me as something but this is just me being mean to religionists as usual). But this doesn't mean she is stupid. Most people, even very "everyday" people, can understand complex abstract ideas if they are just clearly, concisely explained in simple language (Rand believed the same thing, and my experience absolutely confirms her beliefs). I've been able to have deep discussions on philosophical and theological topics with taxi drivers... I see absolutely no reason to assume, a priori, that Palin could not grasp complex philosophical abstractions (and to be honest it is quite probable she already does). But, and I'm trying to be charitable to Carol here, she doesn't seem to be talking about Palin's actual intelligence. She seems to be talking about the "feel" of Palin, or what Palin's public persona gives off. And on this issue I'm inclined to agree with her. Maybe I'm simply being too charitable to Carol, but you can hardly deny Palin gives off a folksy, populist, just-like-you-the-average-voter feel... and this kind of feel tends to necessitate avoidance of "sounding atypically smart" because it can alienate potential voters (note the "sounding" because someone can be extremely smart without speaking in technical vocabulary). Short summary - I think that all Carol was saying was that "Palin doesn't sound like an intellectual."
  24. I've been meaning to ask you about that...Are you still composing? I am! Sorry I haven't uploaded anything. Honestly I haven't spent as much time composing as I'd have liked to these past few years (family issues) but I do have a song in the works which is close to complete. Just need to do some sample collages, vocals and production (maybe a little synth solo). Still, I don't make as much music as I'd like to, but I'll fix it someday. Glad to hear it, and, now that I know the inspiration for "Parasitic-Misanthropic" (and your opinion of the inspiration), the song makes much more sense (and is more meaningful to me). The song itself, especially the venomous vocals, do wonders to fully express your attitude toward her. I don't listen to much techno/industrial music (though I was a big NIN fan in my younger days), so I'm not exactly sure how to judge the song (power-metal is more my forte). But I definitely sense your hatred of her. By the way, the vocals are very androgynous. Are they your own? Thank you very much for your feedback about the song! Yes, the vocals are my own, although they are heavily processed (with more processing used during the chorus than during the verses/bridges). During the chorus, I use a heavy Chorusing effect which tends to make the voice sound more high-pitched than it does during the rest of the song (a Delay effect is used as well).