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Everything posted by mpp

  1. Hey all, thanks for answering in my thread! Guyau, I agree with you, that arbitrary could be a stolen concept. But I am not saying that there at not non-arbitrary statements. I am asking, how we can achieve the same level of certainty about an abstraction as we have about an observation. There is a long way between arbitrary and certain. Something could be founded in evidence, hence not arbitrary but still just a hypothesis or theory. How can we ever say that our stories or interpretations are as true as something we observe with our eyes? Brant, I am not sure I follow. Consciousness observes the physical so is still needed. Also I do not want to say that there are no interpretation, stories, abstractions at all possible. I am asking how we can be certain of the truth of these. -m
  2. Hello all, I am currently doing a course in Radical Honesty (there are parallels imo to Objectivist ethics). One of the tenets of Radical Honesty is that only the noticings from your senses are true and real and everything your mind adds is a more or less arbitrary interpretation or story and cannot be considered THE truth. This idea reminds me of sensualism. The idea that only the material from our senses is true. Unfortunately I was unable to reconstruct a critique of sensualism. How can we say that our abstractions (interpretations of sensual noticings, stories) are true? In the basic Radical Honesty example it sure doesn't seem like we could. Example: Noticing: Somebody frowns and walks out the room. Story: I might interpret that person is angry at me. Fact: I do not know why the person stormed out the room. All I know for sure (to be true) is that the person pulled there mouth down, something I imagined to be frowning, and walked out the room (something I imagined as storming out). My attempt: I suppose in this situation I couldnt know for sure about the interpretation or story I make from my noticing. So I would just form a theory. At which point a theory becomes fact is probably the crux of all epistemology. I think the answer is when there is no contradicting evidence in my context? But still when is there enough evidence for it to assert it as fact? To stick with the example, lets say I do a reality check and ask the person if they are angry with me and they tell me yes and start yelling at me. I suppose then I would know as truth above sensualism that they are angry with me. But even there you could ask questions such as: maybe they are angry with themselves and projecting it on me. Maybe they just want to pretend they are angry with me to achieve a certain eng (easier breakup, pity, etc.) so can I ever really know something about what I see? I will always know for sure that the person yelled at me and made a frowning face at me. But can I be certain of the meaning / interpretation of that? Thank you for reading and chiming in!
  3. Thanks for your reply! 1. This is a good point. As far as I understand it, Objectivism doesn't equate knowledge hierarchy with fundamentality. Fundamentality is one way of hierarchy, but there are others. Hierarchy means just what has to be learn first to understand something later. They do define fundamental as a root cause though -- this definition may be arbitrary, as you can use fundamental in any other way; e.g. in the building metaphor, as you point out, where the ground floor doesn't cause the upper floors. But I can't say I fully grasp the boundaries or purpose of the concept hierarchy. 2. I guess essence would be linked to identity. So with several essences you would have several identities. According to rand, essence is contextual though, so in this sense you could have several essences; one in the context of limited knowledge, then more advanced, etc, etc. In selecting a genus, as I understand it, the genus should imply the largest number of characteristics which the concept has in common with the other things from which it is distinguished by the differentia. This makes sense in terms of cognition, as the genus will feed you more knowledge about the concept which you know from the other things in that genus. Genus should tell us what the concept means basically and how we can distinguish it from these things which have little or nothing in common with our concept. Here is Peikoff on Genus selection:
  4. On this question, here is a rough transcript from Schwartz from his course on Essentials: The thought that fundamental is a relationship between cause and derivative while essence is a relationship between concept and one of the concept's characteristics might be a good starting point for an answer.
  5. Does the term essence always pertain to a concept, hence implying a fundamental, distinguishing characterizing that is similar among many units? Or can we have an essence of a single existent? e.g. What's the essence of man? Rational animal. What's the essence of that person? We wouldn't say rational animal, maybe we would say something about his beliefs, or gene distribution or upbringing...? Can we even speak of essences of existents or is essence reserved for concepts only? How does the essence of man and the essence of that person relate? Essence makes the thing that which it is. But the concept "man" doesn't exist, so essence cannot make the concept what it is. Essence can only make man, as in that person, what he is. But how could we then say what makes him him is his rationality? I am confused between the relationship of essence, what is the essence of, when we speak of an essence of a concept and can there be an essence of something that isn't a concept? Thank you.
  6. A fundamental is the root cause of a series of multi-level, branching effects. E.g. the patriarch and matriarch of a family line. Or rationality in man, it is the cause of many of man's distinguishing features, humor, culture, science. Essence is the things that makes the thing the which it is, that without which the thing wouldn't be what it is. The family line's essence is the founders' DNA, man's essence is rationality. In what way then are a fundamental and an essence different? Or how do they relate? We say an essence is a fundamental attribute; how is this definition not circular? Thank you.
  7. Hello, in terms of thinking, what is the relationship between the concepts Fundamentality, Essence, Principles and how do they differ from each other? For instance, you can say: One must think in principles; one must think in fundamentals; one must think in essences. What is meant in each case, and how is each case different to the other? Lastly, where is each case best used/applied? THANK YOU
  8. Thank you Korben! I've enjoyed Barbara's course and I'm about to acquire Peikoff's as well. Anyone more ideas? Can be technical philosophical literature as well.
  9. Hello all, I would like to study in depth the idea of thinking in (first) principles. I'll want to answer some questions, such as when do you know you've reached the highest abstraction in the context, what exactly makes a principle a principle, how do you find "the one in many", i.e. a recurring principle in many examples, how do you deduce/induce? a principle from facts. Could you kindly point me to some material helpful in studying the above? I like Objectivism's focus on principles in this way, however, I don't mean to only study Objectivist sources -- I know some of the ancient Greeks were concerned with this topic as well. Please mention any and all you'd think would be contributive to my quest! THANK YOU.
  10. I would like to open a bit of a discourse about the idea that we could backwards engineer how our brains process information to create an artificially intelligent machine. To start here is a quote by Harry Binswanger from his book How we know that seeks limits this possibility: I follow his "answer" up to the bolded segment. Then I ask, could we not break down perception and emotions into algorithms? Why should these two phenomena not be replicable without life? I assume there is an answer that consciousness cannot be reduced to matter, but I'm questioning whether it would have to be? Couldn't we just mimic the way consciousness does its thing, just as we are now mimicking how our eyes perceive and evaluate things; e.g. visual recognition software; my iPhone can tell me what is a beach, what is a dog, etc. So for the machine to be able to perceive and feel emotions we define an enormous amount of if-then statements and other fundamental principles about how our mind works and handles input as to mimic how we process information.
  11. I know the feeling of satisfaction watching things like this. check out - sort from top.
  12. thanks for the link. this makes sense, if one is truly on the brink of death starving, even regardless of the reasons why one got there, say by one's own fault, i'd still consider it an emergency if one's only choice is to steal or die. in a situation like this, it seems natural that all morality would fly out the window and one's only choice could be to survive and not to be moral. (unless the survival would carry cost so high it would make the gained life unliveable.)
  13. It can be argued that stealing is wrong, i.e. not in my self-interest, because I'll suffer consequences in form of guilt, not enjoying the stolen goods, etc. However, what if I am literally starving? How can you argue then that stealing is wrong according to the moral standard of self interest? If I'm starving, stealing is in my self-interest and wouldn't it then have to be morally right? Thank you.
  14. Just for starters "snitch" is from a criminal's vocabulary and is used to control other criminals and castrate the victims directly and indirectly. Nowhere is this more true than in prison. You are not in prison so you have no need to think of yourself like that. The problem is how do you REPORT malfeasance? Your wishy-washy way of bringing the matter up made you the "weak bitch" you say you don't want to be. Now that SOB has your number and you've damaged your credibility. You may not get that back without going to a new job and getting a clean sheet to work off of. There is the other problem of adequate documentation if you had been more forthcoming which may be why you weren't. --Brant The bit about the origin of "snitch" was useful, the rest is wrong. The thing is malfeasance doesn't exist in a vacuum, so when I finally brought it up yesterday, there was evidence to support my case. I'm glad I did it. I also changed my stand on the snitch bit, I'll through anyone under the bus if he belongs there. I don't need to protect people or let justice run its own course, it's also not my task to solve problems if there are people whose job it is to do this for me. If no one spoke up in sight of injustice, injustice would be powerless and couldn't run its own course. Still its an interesting question, how far this "crime reporter" role should reach. You can't expect me to report any kind of injustice I see. Live and let live? to what degree? One certainly has to speak up, however, if one's own values or integrity are at stake!
  15. Hi all, at work one of the co-workers is breaking rules and acting unethically to the degree of cheating people, both customers and colleagues. I confronted him and he replied: "I don't give a fuck, I'm here to make money. At the end of the day I don't care about customers or any of you." In a staff meeting with the manager, I brought up the issue somewhat and gave this person the chance to speak for himself. He denied and misrepresented. I didn't say what he told me, I didn't say how he openly admitted to me in private that he screws people intentionally, knowingly. I didn't say how I caught him in the act of cheating or his attempts to do so. I didn't say it because I didn't want to be a snitch. I didn't want to feel like a weak bitch ratting him out to the manager. My question to you all: is this feeling justified? I'm torn because the manager has a wrong image of him because I made him report something which the manager appreciated and valued as an act of honesty, but in truth he was going to profit of something that wasn't his, he was going to steal, and I made him report the situation instead. I also know how he knowingly cheated people but I didn't address it for the above reason. On the other hand, I think that this person will have to suffer the consequences of his actions for himself, and also I don't think the manager will do too much about my reporting, because it will just be a claim to him. So what do you guys recommend me to do? I feel bad because of a misrepresentation but I also don't want to be a snitch. Thank you!
  16. normally you could resolve such issues with the appeal to competitiveness in a free market, e.g. if one were to sell a bottle of water to a dehydrated person in the desert for 1 million dollars, you could just say someone else will sell it for 900,000, etc. here it's more complicated because of patents, so it isn't as easy to come up with a competitive product, plus R&D expenses to develop one would probably not be justified as there aren't many people with the illnesses the pill is supposed to help cure. the question you can ask: what is every company's goal? to make the maximum profit. so if this price increase leads to higher profits, we would have to say it is justified and good, even if it meant, hypothetically, that you make more money selling to the people that can afford the high prices than selling to everyone, fully recognising that those who can't buy it will die or suffer of bad health. if the price increase yields lower profits because it diminishes demand, then of course it's bad. however the issue is additionally complicated by the fact that there are health insurances which would provide a stable demand for the medication. thanks for contributing.
  17. just google his name, there are dozens of articles like the above. basically this kid bought the rights to a drug that was discovered to help HIV+ patients and increased its price per pill 5000%. now everyone screams outrage and blames capitalism probably based on emotions of injustice a la poor HIV+ patients are getting exploited. clinton of course is riding this wave to the fullest, using it for her agenda. what do saner minds say about the above? is it a free-market failure, are people now dying because of a greedy capitalist? or is there more to the story or a different perspective? please share your thoughts.
  18. By value I mean that it would be useful in thinking better, for work, in reasoning, etc. Thank you!
  19. Hi thanks for following through! I'd love to read your article on dignity. As for your description of the concept, so you would differentiate dignity from self-respect by saying self-respect is the recognition of one's own value in one's own eyes while dignity is the recognition of one's value in relation to others? Your description of seeing oneself as a morally good human being I would say fits better into self-respect than into dignity, as it is a judgement one passes about oneself in one's own court.
  20. Ah Brant, we can do better than that. We are to support the premise that one has the right to one's life. It is a very important premise and as such it has to be backed. All of capitalism is based on that premise. We have to have at least a few arguments supporting it.
  21. Hello / if this should rather be in ethics, please move it. my question: how would you support the premise that my life is mine. or phrased differently: I own my life, no one has a claim to my life, I have a right to my own life. It seems self-evident enough but in philosophy you need to support such statements. how would you give proof for this one? thanks for all contributions.
  22. I've always found it a bit odd that Rand described her heroes as happy people yet also described them as smiling very little/ rarely. One think particularly of Howard Roark. I've stumbled upon this article, and I'm thinking now whether this cultural aspect was responsible for the unsmiling heories: Thoughts?
  23. Sure -- but in all this you use a constant definition of dignity. Even if you say it can differ subjectively how people think they reach that. But what is your definition of dignity you had in mind when writing this?
  24. J. Welcome to OL, late to the table. Whenever, that I have run into some scarcity in Ayn's known writings and do not come up with something specific that she wrote, I go back to Aristotle. A... It's a start... That's a nice quote. Thank you. Still looking for a rational definition of dignity. I want to find out whether dignity is (morally) absolute, whether it can be taken or must be given away, if one abdicates his own dignity, must he also do so with everyone else's? What do we mean if we say "I have dignity, my dignity is not for sale" or speak of "dignified behaviour"? How is it different from self-respect or pride...