Roger Bissell

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Everything posted by Roger Bissell

  1. Lexington told us a couple of days ago that our book is now in production and will be released on (or about) June 15 in hardcover and Kindle formats. They say that a paperback version will be released sometime during the winter, probably January 2020. REB
  2. Actually, Anthony was "parroting" Merriam-Webster. LOL. Dang, I hate it when these Objectivists "can't think for themselves" and they use phrases from the dictionary. Double-LOL. Definition of package deal 1: an offer or agreement involving a number of related items or one making acceptance of one item dependent on the acceptance of another 2: the items offered in a package deal NEW! Time Traveler First Known Use: circa 1948
  3. I'm more interested in: what is the cardinal number of the set of talented and productive amateur mathematicians who are adherents to Ayn Rand's philosophy. I'm pretty sure that cardinal number is greater than 1. REB
  4. It was induction based on observation of numerical relations aligned in columns that made certain additional relationships observable. Not all that different from being a medical examiner or forensic scientist: you lay out the data in a helpful way and look for connections. But in induction, you look for *repeated* connections that have a necessary foundation, and then you figure out what that foundation is and express it as a generalization. And then you try to link it to your other knowledge and give a deductive validation of it. But I didn't think the inductive part of my work was all that clever. It was just a lot of hard work and attention to detail and to patterns in that detail. It was when I hit upon the idea of validating my method by solving the Pythagorean equation that I thought I was particularly clever. It was mind-crunchingly difficult to actually solve it, but I figured what the hell, put on your big boy pants and do it. And the payoff was that I validated my method. If the Pythagorean equation was true, then so was my method. Q.E.D. And actually, I didn't get to Pythagoras's equation by induction. I got my Pythagorean triple method by induction and I validated it by solving Pythagoras's equation by completing the square. I took Pythagoras's equation as a given and deduced what it would mean about the relationships between all the terms in the equation - which exactly matched what I had developed inductively from the columns of numbers that in no way depended on the Pythagorean equation (except that I worked with squares and the like, instead of cubes or square roots etc.). REB
  5. This is like pointing to quantum mechanics or relativity theory and asking if you can "get" either of them through sense perception. The reply is: how in the world ELSE do you think you can "get" them - or this marvelous display of all the Pythagorean triples? You cannot get abstract conceptual products without lower-level concepts based on sense perception - and you cannot get deductive conclusions without inductively gained information and conclusions on which all deduction is necessarily based. As I stated in my book, "Not that deduction is insignificant. It is the engine of proof, after all. However, without induction, mathematics - like any other discipline - simply could not get off the ground" (How the Martians Discovered Algebra, p. 51). And thank you, Michael, for pointing out the Stolen Concept involved in Ba'al's question. REB
  6. [This comment attaches to the video of Bush.] Agreed, William. Bush didn't mention Antifa by name, but it was clear that his remark about oppressive regimes trying to suppress disagreement could easily be extended to oppressive social movements that attempt to shut down opposing speakers on college campuses. Overall, I thought it was a good statement of principles and list of aspirational goals, but it came off more as a "report" than as a speech, dry and impersonal, at least in the delivery. Bush 43 was never known for his eloquence, anyway, but I still crave the eloquence of a JFK or Reagan. REB
  7. Well said, Brant. No need to write better. ;-) REB
  8. Wow Roger Bissel knows Douglas. Peter 1 You betcha. I've known both Douglases for over 40 years. I met Douglas Den Uyl in the early 1970s at some of the Equitarian Associates conferences in Wisconsin and Michigan. And I met Douglas Rasmussen in September 1969 when I arrived at the University of Iowa (Iowa City) for graduate school. That same evening I met the young lady who later became my third wife (and we have been happily married now for 27 years). She and I occasionally get together with Douglas Rasmussen and his wife Pam in Omaha, near where we all grew up in the early 60s. I was also their philosophical and editorial assistant for about a year in the preparation of The Perfectionist Turn. It was a fascinating project - and a lot of work! REB
  9. Nathaniel Branden, The Virtue of Selfishness, chapter 5, "Isn't Everyone Selfish?" (Sep. 1962), pp. 66-67, "Egoism holds that, morally, the beneficiary of an action should be the person who acts..." [Also, Webster's New World Dictionary, 3rd College Edition: "3. Ethics the doctrine that self-interest is the proper goal of all human actions: opposed to altruism.] Ayn Rand, The Virtue of Selfishness, Introduction (Sep. 1964), p. x, paragraph 5: "The choice of the beneficiary of moral values is merely a preliminary or introductory issue in the field of morality. It is not a substitute for morality nor a criterion of moral value, as altruism has made it...The Objectivist ethics holds that the actor must always be the beneficiary of his action and that man must act for his own rational self-interest. But his right to do so is derived from his nature as man and from the function of moral values in human life..." In other words, egoism follows from the fact that ethics is founded on the nature of human beings and of how moral values function in human life, and the first conclusion to be drawn from this is the primary principle of the Objectivist ethics, its standard of value, by which one judges what is good or evil: "man's life, or: that which is required for man's survival qua man." (p. 25, VOS) And by "survival," of course, we mean not your physical survival, but flourishing, one's fullest life, as a rational being. ONLY THEN do we come to the question of beneficiary. Once you know that your rational self-fulfillment or flourishing, your fullest life, should be the aim of your actions, THEN you have to determine how best to achieve that purpose. Suppose it were true that you could only rationally flourish and fulfill yourself by making the well-being of others the aim of your actions - i.e., that doing things for others were the means to the end of your flourishing. In that case, altruism would be the necessary "practical" means to your survival qua man. It would be secondary altruism for the primary purpose of rational flourishing, since the latter is your ultimate aim, not just the well-being of others apart from any concern for yourself. (Sounds a lot like Christianity, since the end goal is your eternal life.) The same is true if it is instead egoism (self-as-beneficiary) that is the necessary "practical" means to your survival qua man. And in fact, on a desert island, egoism is the necessary "practical" means to your survival and flourishing. Further, this does not essentially change when other people enter the mix, as in a group, a family, a community, or a society. People cooperate and trade, they voluntarily give up things they value in exchange for other things they value more - and they put up with UN-voluntary, forced relationships and exchanges, to a point, in order to keep getting the other, unforced, voluntary values. Even when it appears that they are "sacrificing," many rationally self-interested, flourishing-minded people consider what they give up to be "worth it," in terms of the "spiritual value" they receive.* (Raising children can involve this to quite an extent.) But secondary "altruism" in service of flourishing is not infinitely elastic, any more than is one's willingness to continue to be exploited by redistribution schemes so long as one has a decent amount of freedom otherwise. Some Objectivists (not ARI-oriented, to be sure) have tried to argue that Objectivism's ethics involves more than egoism, and I agree that it does, but whatever "altruism" or "unselfishness" that is required for survival is a secondary, contextual matter, just as are those situations where grabbing-all-the-goodies-for-oneself is the right thing to do. There is great responsibility required in identifying and taking the right actions to help you live the fullest, most rationally flourishing life, and as Rand said, self-as-beneficiary is NOT a moral criterion. It's only a secondary issue - which, again, is why her ethics is not primarily an egoistic theory. REB * For anyone for whom this still isn't sinking in, I strongly recommend you read or re-read chapter 3 of The Virtue of Selfishness, "The Ethics of Emergencies," and (with pencil in hand) circle each of the NINE instances of the word "should" in that essay, and ponder why Rand would use the term if benevolence/helping others were not a contextual/non-sacrificial virtue.
  10. Neither Douglas Den Uyl nor Douglas Rasmussen works at Reason. They use reason quite frequently, in both the theoretical and practical varieties, but their official places of employment are Liberty Fund and St. Johns University, respectively. And yes, their book does mention Rand, but they don't spend much time on her ethics or meta-ethics. I personally think that an essay should be written comparing their ethical frameworks. I think it could be very clarifying to people who think that the Objectivist ethics is fundamentally a form of egoism (which it is not, as Rand herself points out, and despite the implication of the subtitle of her book, The Virtue of Selfishness: A New Concept of Egoism. REB
  11. Only a computer science geek could confuse relative nothingness (the absence of something in particular) with absolute Nothingness. Otherwise, why talk about adding zero, as though zero were some actual quantity, rather than the absence of a quantity? REB
  12. This video is great fun, Ba'al. Thanks for sharing it! I confess that I did not go through any complicated logic in order to discover my method for generating Pythagorean triples. I just made a table showing various values that worked, and eventually I saw some suspicious looking patterns. I generalized from those patterns, tried some more variations, generalized a bit further, then realized I had a method that seemed always to work. Then I realized that I could solve the Pythagorean equation for x (though with difficulty, since it required completing a rather messy, unwieldy square), and then I found that I could plug any rational number less than -1 or greater than 0 into my solution for x and generate a Pythagorean triple. It's all in the book, for anyone who wants to see both the inductive jungle I hacked my way through, or the rather straightforward, though difficult deductive mountain I scaled in order to validate the inductive result. (The Einstein/Martians essay was supposed to have illustrated in a briefer, more enjoyable way the two paths to knowledge that my Pythagorean triple essay rather long-windedly illustrated, but I'm not sure that the message has gotten through.) REB
  13. This is a false alternative. Zero is not absolute nothingness. But that doesn't mean it is something. It is the absence of something. Not the absence of anything whatsoever (that would be absolute nothingness), but the absence of something in particular. The phrase "zero apples" does not mean that there is some number of apples, and that number is zero. It means that there are not any apples, that any attempt to count the apples does not produce any results, and by convention, we say that we have "counted zero apples," when in fact we have not counted any apples. All of the so-called "algebraic properties" of zero are actually just the results of attempting to perform calculations in the absence of any quantity that one would normally be able to perform such calculations. Some say this is "a difference without a difference." By the same token, quantum mechanical equations produce the same results regardless of whether one adopts the Copenhagen interpretation or a more realistic interpretation. And perhaps there are not now any reasons for preferring one interpretation of the metaphysics of quantum mechanics or the metaphysics of zero over another. But I'm confident that there are reasons for preferring a realistic interpretation over one that reifies non-existence, even the relative or particular non-existence captured in how we use the concept of "zero" in mathematics. Even now, we have recently seen some Danish students who have found a method of measuring the position and momentum of subatomic particles, and who have thus proved that Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle is ONLY the claim of a methodological limitation on simultaneous measurement of position and momentum of particles, and not a metaphysical law that such particles do not simultaneously possess position and measurement. For decades, the anti-Identity modern philosophers were pushing the former interpretation. But Aristotle has had the last laugh. And I'm chuckling along with him.
  14. Not only is the Roman numeral system clunky for doing math, it's lame for even making a numbered list. I was labeling some files in a folder recently, and I made the mistake of using Roman numerals, and I kept wondering where the 5th file was. Finally, I saw it way at the bottom of the folder's list, underneath files whose name started with S and T and U. Yikes. Then I realized the first four were only together because the computer interpreted I, II, III, and IV as starting with the *letter* I. Double yikes. Well, all I can say is: thank God and Bill Gates that MS Word's indexing function doesn't work that way when using Roman numerals! REB
  15. This is not just a special malady afflicting posters to Objectivist Living, but people posting to Objectivist fora in general, and in regard to any book they think they will disagree with. They will mock and criticize when they see certain cue words and phrases, and they will close their eyes and ears and shout "lalalalalala," and not bother to read and understand the arguments. I call it the "James Taggart don't-bother-me Virus." There is no known cure. REB
  16. No, it is more like a bat. If used improperly, it will *produce* foul balls. REB
  17. Fourth and final? 04/03/05, 08/06/10, 12/05/13, 9/12/15, and 12/9/15 also were, and 12/16/20 is yet to come. Those were the dates on the mug. I'm gonna ask for a refund! REB
  18. You Rational Empiricists are all alike - a quick 7 or 8 theorems and you're off with the boys! I just received in the mail today Eli Maor's 2007 book The Pythagorean Theorem: A 4,000 Year History (Princeton University Press). It's a very nice looking book, and I can't wait for bedtime to read it! Last week, I received a mug and tee-shirt celebrating what appears to be the fourth and final Pythagorean Theory Day in the 21st century. It's coming right up on August 15. (08/15/17, which is a Pythagorean triple) (The other three were (03/04/05, 06/08/10, and 05/12/13.) REB P.S. - It's fascinating to me that Leonard Peikoff, 45 years ago, claimed that before the ancient Greeks, there was only "primitive knowledge" in areas like mathematics and astronomy. Our beloved Pythagorean theorem actually comes from not the Greeks, but the Babylonians about 1000 years prior to Euclid et al. (Some speculate the ancient Egyptians knew of it, too, but I haven't seen any conclusive evidence for the claim.)
  19. Thanks for alerting me to the typo. It must have been one of our underlings who did it. I'll make the correction in the master file, and it will at least get corrected in the Kindle. I'll see what options CreateSpace gives us for future printings. My favorite Objectivist typo, which is in its 50th year of existence now, is on line 9, page 54 of Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology. It is very informative to learn that concepts are "produced by man's consciousuess." REB P.S. - Please pass along any further typo's you find. Thanks!
  20. Certainly gratifying to know that the Estate is being cared for so lovingly. Reminds me of Cousin Leonard's selfless devotion. My understanding is that the royalties are going to be devoted to distributing free copies, such as to libraries. Nobody is getting rich off this, that's for sure! So, yes, lovingly - as in, labor of love. REB
  21. Amazon says I can have it by Thursday. I hate to ask, but is there an index? And was it proofed against the pagination? I, for one, really appreciate that you (and whoever else was involved) have made this available. Nathaniel's Vision of Ayn Rand too. Hey man - I hate to tell you, but there is no index, sorry. However, the good news is that there's no pagination either! (Just joking.) And I'm glad that Amazon seems to have stepped up their game - if you mean they said you could get it by *this* Thursday (i.e., the day after tomorrow). The main people working to make this happen were Chris Sciabarra (foreword), myself (transcription, introduction, bibliography), and a trustee of Barbara's estate, who shall remain anonymous. REB
  22. The print version of POET is now available! You can order from CreateSpace (link below) or from Amazon, but the Estate gets a better royalty (same list price of $14.99) from CreateSpace, so please order from there, if you would. Thanks! Oh, and by the way, the print version of POET will not be available from for 3-5 business days - but is available NOW from the CreateSpace e-store (the above link). Enjoy, y'all! :-) REB
  23. Three comments - take your pick over which to distort or misrepresent: 1. Aristotle and Plato held up the development of real physical science between 1000 and 2000 years. Isn't that an awfully wide range of values? Is Heisenberg screwing with us again? 2. Aristotle and Plato defined the laws of logic, including the law of identity, which some claim to not be able to find in Aristotle or Plato. This held up the development of science? This sounds more like a Sophist argument. 3. Only 1/4 of Aristotle's works survived to the Renaissance and the Modern Era. Would "real physical science" be better off or worse off today if ALL of Aristotle's works had survived? If NONE of them had survived? Do you have candidates for "wish they hadn't survived"? REB P.S. - I suppose you have a point. I see a similar problem with how Rand herself held up the development of Objectivism, perhaps by 50 years or more by various of her practices and policies. (And I'm not talking about Closed Objectivism.)