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Everything posted by MisterSwig

  1. They might be related, in that something beneficial which you gain will be something that you benefited from in the past or continue benefiting from throughout your life. But this doesn't necessarily mean that something you benefited from in the past is still beneficial to you now, because things and contexts change over time.
  2. That got me thinking about the Tom Hank's movie "Castaway" when he begins to take stock of his situation. I watched Cast Away last night. I think the "taking stock" portion actually begins before the crash. As the situation becomes more desperate on the plane, he leaves his seat to recover his watch with the picture in it. This act is clearly motivated by the mental aspect of his standard of values. The object is important to his happiness. Then on the beach he addresses other aspects of his life. Purely physical concerns include shelter from the elements and shoes for his feet. As a biological organism he must also sustain his life, so he creates things like the spear to hunt for food and fire to signal for help. His volleyball doll is a little silly, but I suppose it falls into the mental aspect, particularly the value of having someone to talk to. It keeps him mentally active, emotionally invested, and distracted from his solitude. Though if I were stranded on an uninhabited island for four years, I wouldn't create a male doll.
  3. First, that isn't my formulation. Mine would sound like this: if a value is not POSSIBLE (or not BENEFICIAL) to EACH member of the human race, then it is not a universal value for the human race. My formulation is not about chosen values, it's about objective values. Reproduction is not an objective value to each member of the human race. Consider that an individual goes through stages of life from infancy to old age. His identity, and thus some of his objective values, change over the course of his life. It is only after physical maturity that reproduction becomes possible to fertile adults. And then it becomes impossible again for elderly, post-menopausal women. Thus, a significant portion of the human race cannot reproduce. Reproduction could be a value for the fertile portion of humanity. But even then there are other factors to consider in particular circumstances, such as whether it would positively or negatively affect the parents, the nation or the species. Each human has an identity, and for many of them their identity does not include reproduction. That's an objective fact. Children can't produce sperm or eggs. They can't reproduce. Elderly women are no longer fertile, they can't reproduce. If "human nature" meant the nature of mature, fertile humans, I could see the foundation for your position. But that's not what it means. It includes non-fertile humans too. Children and old women are not exceptions to humanity. Childhood and old age are normal stages of being a human. Now it's true that children normally develop into fertile adults, and most elderly women were fertile in their youth, but that doesn't change their current nature. And when you're identifying something, you must identify it as it currently exists, otherwise what are you identifying? The human species consists of human individuals at all stages of life, both reproductive and not.
  4. I still haven't seen that movie. Which is unusual since I like survival movies.
  5. Technically I wouldn't blank it out, I would line it out after consideration. A universal code of values must apply to all particular humans who want to live, and reproduction does not do that. A species is a group of individuals, a collective, and so reproduction is a collective or group value, not a universal one. To some individuals within the group (probably a minority), reproduction might be impossible or even detrimental to their lives. Thus their purpose within the group cannot or should not include reproduction.
  6. Right, because I said I didn't understand your position and then went into question mode. It's not an emergency, it's rather the last man's new normal. He's not going to escape from the situation of there being nobody else in the world. Biology includes survival of the living organism, not just reproduction of it. The last man must still use his own life to figure out what is valuable to it. He wouldn't be duty-bound to survive, but if he chose to live he'd have to use his own life as a standard for survival, in addition to his abstract standard. But I agree that the "last man" scenario is fiction, and thus we shouldn't use it to formulate our standard. I used it to inform my question: If the answer is yes, wouldn't that imply that birth control is evil? Taking the pill or wearing a condemn is bad for reproduction.
  7. Thanks, I think. We can switch gears, if you like. The latest episode is an interview with Andrew Bernstein on his campaign against the left and his book on heroes.
  8. I'm not sure what you mean by making a biological standard for the species. If there were only one man left in the world, he would need a standard of value based on his biology, but that standard could not include reproduction because there would be no women with whom to reproduce. Are you saying that since there are women and men in existence, their biological standard must include reproduction? My general take is that a man's standard is a complex of physical, biological and mental factors. This includes physical pleasure, biological health, and rational knowledge. I took a stab at formulating the idea a few years ago on the OO forum. It's probably evolved a bit since then. Regarding biology, having a normal set of humans (species group) to observe must be necessary to formulate the abstract standard for humans. But reproduction couldn't be part of that abstract standard, since reproduction is objectively impossible (or even fatal) for some women. It's not a value to all humans. And the "species" is not an actual individual to whom a standard could apply. Reproduction is a value to those for whom it's objectively good or beneficial, because it satisfies (or leads to the satisfaction of) the need for pleasure or health or knowledge, or some combo of such universal values.
  9. I agree, I don't think it's a hoax. Lev and I discuss this evidence on our podcast. Thought you'd be interested. We'll probably do a part 2, so I'm curious what people think are the most important factors or issues concerning these UFOs.
  10. I'd pay good money to watch Brook and Barney fight in the Octagon. I pretty much stopped listening to the left, unless they have a sense of humor. I can't stand the humorless left that's only interested in destroying things, including jokes.
  11. I would have a different evaluation of the claim and the claimant, because my father is not Nathaniel Branden, nor is my father a deceptive womanizer. To say the same thing about my father would be ridiculous, because there isn't a shred of evidence for it. Whereas with Branden there is some evidence, but, again, I think there is reasonable doubt. Yes, if someone said that of my father, I'd have no trouble calling him a liar or idiot. I believe I read it correctly. Valliant brings up the psychology of a rapist in the context of Branden's sexual relation with Rand on page 382-3. So Valliant is addressing Branden's motive for his romantic behavior. And he reinforces this point by also discussing Branden's other "romantic choices," Barbara and Patrecia. If Branden's alleged pathology affected other relations, that wouldn't be evidence for "the soul of a rapist," but perhaps the soul of a thief, brute, etc. Yes, they do. If you read or watch true crime stories, rapists (and even murderers) can be different sorts of people. Some are charming, some even have families and friends who never suspected a thing. Character witness testimony can be important, and Valliant certainly looks at a large chunk of it in his book. The most relevant testimony would be from his sexual partners, and that's where Valliant concentrates his focus. I tried to interject a few times but gave up because James and Scott were pretty heated over the Branden topic and it wasn't really my kind of battle. It's hard to avoid epistemological mistakes in the heat of a debate. You have to check your emotions and think at the same time under time constraints and social pressure. That's why I prefer forum posting and some pre-planned, pre-recorded, edited podcasting rather than livestreaming whatever spontaneous nonsense falls out of my mouth sometimes.
  12. We have a new episode where we interview Stephen Hicks on postmodernism and the leftist manifestations of it. If you're into the use of language, I ask him about the postmodern tactic of weaponized rhetoric near the end.
  13. Valliant provided the photo for the thumbnail. I'll answer other posts when I have more time.
  14. Haha, I didn't call him a legend, Scott did. I do like Valliant, though, and his books, but that doesn't mean I agree with everything he says or writes, just like I don't agree with everything Rand said or wrote. Hell, I don't even agree with everything I have said or written over the years. I've changed my mind on a few things. Is that more exaggeration? I'm not going to hit someone for speculating about a deceptive womanizer's psychology or motive, even if for some reason I cared about the deceptive womanizer. I might try to defend him rhetorically against questionable accusations. But in the case of Branden, I don't care much for him, and so I'm not that interested in defending him. Which relevant parts of Branden's life did Valliant fail to consider? You can only look at the parts that are revealed, and of those you only need to consider the ones that are relevant to your thesis. The "soul of a rapist" charge pertains to his sexual relationships. I think Valliant addressed these in relation to his conclusion. Though I'm not sure his conclusion is correct, because I think the evidence supports reasonable doubt. Namely, someone with the soul of a rapist should be an actual rapist. So why didn't his women report him as a rapist? Did they enjoy being raped? Or was Branden something less than a rapist?
  15. It didn't come up, but I'm familiar with that part of his book, having reread portions before the interview. For the record, I'm not sold on the "soul of a rapist" charge. (pp. 382-3) It's a rather strong claim. I see some evidence pointing to maybe a low-level "rapey" mentality. But then Rand did create Howard Roark, so perhaps that's what she liked in a man, only without the lying part. Also, if Branden's "need to control" was that pathological, I doubt he would have ended the sexual relationship. He probably would have continued satisfying Rand and continued trying to control her. But then I'm not a rapist, so I don't know how much age or looks factors into it. I do think, however, that there's more to the "soul of a rapist" than an unhealthy desire to control people. And it doesn't seem fair to say someone has the "soul of a rapist" yet agree that he wasn't an actual rapist. It reminds me of the soul-body dichotomy.
  16. I addressed part of this issue with a question at 22:25 in part one. I asked why he thinks Rand failed to see that Branden was manipulating her. And Valliant started answering by saying that he thought Branden sincerely loved Rand in the beginning. But then, he says, Branden began using psychotherapy to manipulate people.
  17. I think it's a deeply psychological problem in most cases. These types treat their mind as sacrosanct, because it's their "reality," their "truth." Thus, anything that pops into their mind has the force of a "fact," including their misinterpretations of what you say, which often result from the influence of triggered emotions. Sometimes they notice that their belief clashes with another "fact," and then they have to try to think or evade. But they are generally oriented toward a subjective world view, because they failed to automatize objectivism, despite claiming to uphold it. Subjectivism remains as a vestige from their prior, overt beliefs. It governs their cognitive perspective. Perhaps they don't realize it, or perhaps they do, can't do anything about it and try to hide the problem by using distractions such as lashing out at others. Better to be considered an asshole than a subjectivist.
  18. In episode four Scott and I discuss the momentum of religious and philosophical ideas throughout history and the problem of moral equivalence related to judging political sides. We also talk about Scott's view of life extension and making it the unifying purpose of the liberty movement.
  19. Scott and I had James Valliant on the podcast. We interviewed him for over three hours about several topics. The content is divided into three parts. I hope you listen and subscribe to our channel. In Part 1 Valliant explains how he learned about Objectivism, then he and Scott have a lively disagreement about the Brandens. In Part 2 we talk about Valliant's history in the Objectivist movement, and then at 33:17 we discuss Rand's history with conservatives. Finally, Part 3 goes into immigration (0:00), memory (9:01), the Derek Chauvin Trial (24:20), and Valliant's book Creating Christ (30:54).
  20. If you can't reproduce with any other living thing, then you certainly don't have reproduction. I wouldn't say you have nothing though. You still have your particular life. True. I'm not making survival or reproduction the standard. I once argued for the rationality of captured spies committing suicide. There are cases where controlling the time and manner of your death through suicide might be the rational choice. Heck, Galt was prepared to off himself to save Dagny from torment. Rand understood this. That said, if your species were in danger of going extinct, you should seriously consider making survival and reproduction your top goals, if only to help ensure your own long-term happiness. You must consider that in old age you will need more and more help from the younger, fitter generation. You might have a store of property or knowledge to trade, but what good will that do you if there's nobody to trade with when you're declining in physical capacity. I agree. This is why I find persuasive those black economists who argue that welfare programs destroy black families by favoring single mothers. Lots of people don't reproduce, including lots of straights. Over-reproduction can be harmful at the species-level, just like under-reproduction can cause problems. Ha! I had a buddy in high school who was gay. We were even roommates after college for a time. He fell in love with me, which made the friendship awkward, since I'm 100% straight and had to convince him that he had no chance with me.
  21. I believe she was looking at an organism's life from different perspectives. On one hand your life is your standard of value, because you use your healthy states as the biological norm that you try to achieve or maintain. If you feel pain, you try to eliminate it and get to a pleasurable condition. And then on the other hand your life is your ultimate purpose, because without it you have nothing. You must always be acting to maintain your life. Or resign yourself to death. That's my interpretation of what Rand meant. But like I said I think she had an incomplete formulation. So I recognize room for disagreement here. You brought up the sea creature example which only applies to particular people who study sea creatures. A universal value would be something that every human requires, like food, water, air. And in adults: reason, self-esteem, purpose.
  22. A human being is an organism. So there are organisms that can abstract. Rand clearly included man in her idea of "organism." The problem is that Rand, in my view, had an incomplete formulation of the standard of value. Due to man's conceptual faculty, he has a complex standard of value which includes his proper biological functioning, just like any other organism on the planet.
  23. I like that example. Smoking is complicated, however, by the fact that nicotine has a medicinal use as a stimulant. That's not to suggest every smoker uses it medicinally. And even for those who do, the potential or actual harm might outweigh the potential or actual benefit, particularly when there are safer ways to take nicotine now. What characteristic(s) did you think smoking fulfilled? I don't mind if you do make it competitive. I actually prefer it, if that's your style. The primary reason why I post anywhere is to be challenged by people who disagree with something I believe. Life's too short to stumble around with wrong beliefs. I want to be right all the time, and so I seek out people I respect who disagree and aren't afraid to tell me so. What did I say that suggests a static view? The part you initially quoted? Yes, I've always taken stories seriously, ever since childhood when I started writing fiction, then later when I focused on literature in high school and college. Also, I enjoy hiking, and my friends and I tell each other many stories on the trails. Every weekend now I Skype with a Christian and discuss the stories in the Bible. Yes, anyone who dreams knows the brain is capable of inventing whole stories at a nonvolitional level. But even this process can be controlled. I've had a lucid dream where I realized I was dreaming and then assumed volitional control over it. It's hard to do though. I only did it once so far. Others are much better at it. When you're fully conscious you obviously have more control over the stories your brain churns out. You can focus on your imagination and direct it volitionally, correlating it with observation and memory if you choose to do that. I always find such experiments fascinating. Thanks for letting me know about this one. Incidentally I often close my left eye while reading. I chalked it up to my poorer eyesight in the left eye, but maybe it has something to do with not wanting to fill my head with stories of chicken shit. First, the pre-adults and elderly adults you mentioned must identify their own life sufficiently correctly in order to have any perspective and values at all. Otherwise they would be dead or comatose, incapable of sustaining their own life at the most basic level. Second, which innate values and perspective they have at any point in their life depends on their particular nature at that point, which includes their physical and mental condition and the effects of aging. It also depends on the choices they've made. Third, this isn't my main position. I'm mostly talking about what is required for a volitional being to make a moral evaluation. The identifications required do not need to be 100% correct, but they need to be sufficiently correct for survival of the evaluator.
  24. I believe you're referring to the Objectivist standard of value, which is an abstraction defined by Rand. I'm talking about the biological standard of value, which Rand does identify in The Objectivist Ethics: "An organism's life is its standard of value." (VOS, p. 17)
  25. Which human life? You're treating the standard of value generally and not applying it to the particular units from which it was abstracted. Correctly identifying a sea creature might be highly important to a marine biologist seeking greater understanding of sea life. Perhaps it would lead to a Nobel Prize or other career success.