Roger Bissell

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Everything posted by Roger Bissell

  1. The following was posted on Peter Jaworski's web site: George H. Smith Since 1971, over 100 of his articles and book reviews have appeared in a wide range of publications, including The New York Times, The Arizona Daily Star, Reason Magazine, Free Inquiry, The Humanist, Inquiry Magazine, Cato Policy Report, Invictus, LD/Extemp Monthly, Liberty, The Voluntaryist, Book News, Journal of Libertarian Studies, Humane Studies Review, Independent Thinking Review, etc. During the 1980s, George worked for over six years as the General Editor of Knowledge Products, a Nashville-based company that produced educational tapes on philosophy, history, economics, and current affairs. During those years, in addition to his duties as editor, George was also the primary scriptwriter for "The Great Political Thinkers" series. Each of these tapes is approximately ninety minutes (around 42 manuscript pages) and discusses a classical text on a level that is appropriate for university students. George wrote several scripts, which were produced using professional narrators (including Walter Cronkite and George C. Scott) and actors. The tapes have been widely used in college classrooms. 1975-1982: Director and lecturer, Forum for Philosophical Studies, Los Angeles. 1977-1987: Lecturer on American History, Cato Institute summer seminars. 1977-1994: Senior Research Fellow and lecturer on political philosophy and intellectual history, Institute for Humane Studies, George Mason University (Virginia). His primary job for IHS was teaching university students at seminars for three to six weeks every summer. 1983-1989: General editor and scriptwriter for Knowledge Products. Currently, George is working on two books: The Disciplines of Liberty and Happiness in a Godless World (forthcoming from Prometheus Books). The Wikipedia entry had the following information on George, some of which was linked to online essays: George H. Smith (born 1949 in Spearsville, Louisiana) is a libertarian author. His published works often deal with such issues as capital punishment, anarchism, religious toleration, and atheism. He has written about William Wollaston, Herbert Spencer, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Ayn Rand, and other figures. Bibliography Atheism: The Case Against God. 1974. ISBN 0-8402-1115-5 and ISBN 0-87975-124-X "William Wollaston on Property Rights", Journal of Libertarian Studies, Vol. 2, no. 3, 1978, pp. 217-225. "Justice Entrepreneurship in a Free Market", Journal of Libertarian Studies, Vol. 3, no. 4 (Winter 1979): pp. 405-26 "Justice Entrepreneurship Revisited", Journal of Libertarian Studies, Vol. 3, no. 4 (Winter 1979): pp. 453-69. "Herbert Spencer's Theory of Causation", Journal of Libertarian Studies, Vol. 5 (Spring 1981), no. 2: pp. 113-152 Atheism, Ayn Rand and Other Heresies. 1991. ISBN 0-87975-577-6 "A Killer’s Right to Life", Liberty, Vol. 10, no. 2 (November 1996): 46. "Inalienable Rights?", Liberty, Vol. 10, no. 6 (July 1997): 51 Why Atheism? 2000. ISBN 1-57392-268-4 Reviews and commentary David Gordon's review of Atheism: Ayn Rand and Other Heresies in The Journal of Libertarian Studies, Vol. 10, no. 2 (Fall 1992) N. Stephan Kinsella's response to Smith regarding capital punishment Steven Strasnick. "Justice Entrepreneurship in A Free Market": Comment
  2. Roger Bissell

    Cruz Nuz

    I've become increasingly concerned with how focus during the Republican primary campaign has veered strongly away from substantive issues and toward sound bites and personal attacks - and away from conservative advocacy and toward beating the drums for nationalism and populism. Ted Cruz is not perfect in this respect, but he has done a lot better job of keeping the focus on issues than have most of his opponents. Here's a link to Sean Hannity's interview with Ted Cruz which ran on Fox News Channel on Wed. Jan. 20. I think you can see what I mean as you watch the video. http://www.foxnews.com/transcript/2016/01/20/ted-cruz-trump-will-continue-cronyism-corporate-welfare-in-dc-marco-rubio-as/ Here's the transcript of the interview, with highlighted important issues material: SEAN HANNITY, HOST: And welcome to "Hannity." And tonight, the Iowa caucuses are just 12 days away and the rivalry between GOP front-runners Donald Trump and Senator Ted Cruz is intensifying. Now, according to the latest RealClearPolitics average, the two candidates are neck and neck in the Hawkeye State, Donald Trump in first with 28.8 percent of the vote, Senator Ted Cruz right behind at 26.6 percent. Here with reaction, 2016 Republican presidential candidate Texas senator Ted Cruz. Senator, good to see you again. Welcome back. SEN. TED CRUZ, R-TEXAS, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Sean, great to be with you. HANNITY: I got to tell you, this has really become a slugfest in the minds-- I have friends that support you. I have friends that support Trump. It's palpable! And there's even -- there's almost, like, an anger that's building between the two camps. From your perspective, how do you see this competition? CRUZ: Well -- well, listen, I agree that Donald seems to be getting very angry. I mean, he's rattled and he's tossing out a lot of insults. I have no intention of responding in kind. I don't intend to insult him. In fact, I like Donald. I respect him. And I'm interested in getting into a mud-slinging fight. So if he wants to do that, that's his choice, but I won't be doing it. What I will be doing is keeping the race focused on issues and substance. I think that's what the voters expect. I think that's what they deserve. And right now, the men and women of this country are trying to make the determination who is best prepared to be commander-in-chief. And who can we trust to be a consistent conservative. We're tired of getting burned. Who can we trust to actually deliver on and do what they say they'll do? HANNITY: Do you now see this as a two-man race? I mean, I'm looking at polls, obviously very tight in Iowa. It's pretty much a fight for second place, according to the polls in New Hampshire. You're in second place in South Carolina, second place in Florida, second place in Georgia, first place in Utah in a poll that came out this week. CRUZ: Yes. HANNITY: Is it a two-man race in your mind? CRUZ: You know, Sean, I think it very much is becoming a two-man race between me and Donald. And you know, one with of the really strong signs of that is you're seeing the Washington establishment dumping their candidate. So for example, a lot of the establishment had been behind Marco Rubio. They've decided now he doesn't have a path to victory. They're moving to Donald Trump. And we're seeing that more and more. And you know, it's kind of curious. Donald is publicly bragging about how all the big establishment players are getting behind him, and his criticism of me is he said I went to Washington and actually stood up and fought in Washington, and Donald has said, well, the problem he has with me is that I won't go along to get along in Washington. I won't cut deals. And Donald has promised he'll go to Washington, he'll cut deals, he'll go along to get along. Now, I got to tell you, Sean. You know the conservatives across this country. I don't think the problem with Washington is that we haven't had enough Republicans willing to cut deals with the Democrats. The problem is, Republican leadership cuts deals every day with the Democrats, like this horrible omnibus bill that funded a trillion dollars, funded all of Obama's big government priorities. And the establishment seems to have made a determination Donald Trump's guy they can make a deal with who will continue the cronyism and corporate welfare and bail-outs for big banks. And I think we're seeing conservatives getting behind us, and we're seeing the Washington establishment getting behind Donald Trump, interestingly enough. HANNITY: It's interesting you reveal it that way because I've always thought the establishment despised both of you. And -- which -- and I don't mean that in a bad way. I'm a proud insurgent supporter, if you will, in this election because, like you, I feel that Washington Republicans failed us. When you say you're going to fight -- for example, in 2010, the promise was repeal and replace ObamaCare. They wouldn't use the power of the purse. In 2014, it was stop executive amnesty. CRUZ: Yes. HANNITY: They funded it and they've now punted it to the courts. How do you fight that battle if you get to be commander-in-chief? Explain the process in which you would be able to do that. CRUZ: Look, the only way to fight that battle, I believe, is with a strong conservative president. Congressional leadership -- they're simply not going to lead. But with a strong conservative president, it's an altogether different world. For one thing, the way Obama has abused his power, the tool he has used most often is executive authority. He's abused his constitutional power. The silver lining of that is everything done with executive power can be undone with executive power. That's why I've pledged on day one to rescind every single illegal and unconstitutional executive action done by Barack Obama. It's why I've pledged to direct the Department of Justice to open an investigation into Planned Parenthood and prosecute any criminal violation. It's why I have pledged to end the persecution of religious liberty in the federal government. It's why I've pledged to direct the Department of Education to end Common Core. A strong, vigorous executive can undo the damage of the Obama administration. HANNITY: You know... CRUZ: But secondly, when it comes to Congress, a president that is prepared to say to congressional leadership, If you send me a bill that is filled with corporate welfare, that's filled with pork, that's filled with cronyism, I will veto it. That's what Reagan did, and it changed the entire direction of this country. That's exactly what I'm committed to doing, as well. HANNITY: Let's talk about the trajectory of the race. When you were recently on my radio show, you said, no, Iowa is not a must win for the Cruz campaign, for your campaign. Talk about the path for the primary, through the primary, and tell me in a general election what states do you believe a Ted Cruz candidacy could put in play against either Hillary or Bernie or maybe Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden, I don't know, if Hillary, in fact, got indicted? CRUZ: Well, we'll start with the primary, where you asked. I think we are all in in each of the first four states -- Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada. We've got amazing teams on the ground in each of the first four states. What we're seeing is conservatives coming together behind our campaign, and we're seeing the establishment coming together behind Donald Trump's campaign. I like those odds. There are more conservatives than there are the establishment. I believe we're well positioned to do really well in Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina and Nevada. And then 10 days after South Carolina is Super Tuesday, the SEC states -- Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas. I think Super Tuesday is going to be an amazing day for our campaign, where conservatives say, We don't want someone who views the job of president as, Let's expand the role of Washington, let's cut more deals with Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, let's have more cronyism and bail-outs. And you know, we're seeing real distinctions on the issues. So for example, Donald Trump enthusiastically supported the TARP bail-out of big banks. I opposed it. He enthusiastically supported Barack Obama's stimulus plan. He thought it should have been bigger. I think it was a disaster and a waste of money. Actually, Donald not only supported both of those, but he argued that ObamaCare should be expand to make it socialized medicine for everyone. Actually, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have basically the same health care plan. I disagree. As president, I will sign legislation -- we will repeal every word of ObamaCare! So there's a sharp policy distinction, and I think in the primary, Republican voters want a conservative. They don't want a deal maker who has written checks and supported Hillary Clinton and Mitch McConnell and John Boehner and Chuck Schumer. HANNITY: Let me ask you... CRUZ: They want instead a principled Reagan conservative. HANNITY: Maybe Donald Trump took the biggest shot at you today. He actually compared you to Hillary Clinton. I want to ask you about that. And you had two people come out, one against you and one for Donald Trump -- Governor Palin's endorsement. She had endorsed you for the Senate, and Governor Branstad and his comments saying anybody pretty much but Ted Cruz. Your reaction to all those comments. CRUZ: Oh, listen, Sarah Palin -- I love Sarah Palin. I wouldn't be in the Senate without her support. She's made her decision for 2016. That's her prerogative. Regardless of that decision, I will remain a big, big fan of Sarah Palin's. And I do think the decision of who is the consistent conservative, who's the genuine conservative -- that's a decision that's going to be made by the men and women of Iowa, by the men and women of New Hampshire and South Carolina and the states that are voting. As for Governor Branstad, you know, it's actually interesting. That is an example of the establishment getting behind Donald Trump, of the Washington cartel getting behind Donald Trump. You know, and in fact, the governor's explanation for why is he wants a leader like Donald Trump who will continue the mandates, the ethanol mandate, in fact, expand it. You know, my view is we should have no mandates at all, no subsidies, no Washington picking winners and losers, no cronyism, but rather a level playing field. That's why my tax plan is a simple flat tax, 10 percent for everybody, no mandates, no subsidies for oil and gas, no subsidies ethanol, for wind, for solar, for anybody else. Washington is not in the influence playing business. We bring power back to the people. I think that's what the Republican voters are looking for. HANNITY: And when we come back, we'll have more with Senator Ted Cruz. He'll give his closing arguments heading into Iowa. But coming up next... (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ED HENRY, FOX NEWS: (INAUDIBLE) Did you wipe the server? HILLARY CLINTON, D-N.Y., FMR. SEC. OF STATE, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What, like, with a cloth or something? No. (END VIDEO CLIP) HANNITY: You mean, like, with a cloth or something? Anyway, a new report reveals that Hillary Clinton had e-mails that were beyond top secret on her private server. Now, could this new development put her behind bars? Senator Ted Cruz will weigh in. Also tonight...(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LENA DUNHAM, ACTOR: I cannot talk about Hillary Clinton without also acknowledging the horrific gender attack on every aspect of her character that she endures from the media. (END VIDEO CLIP) HANNITY: Now, some of Hillary Clinton's biggest supporters, like Hollywood liberal Lena Dunham -- well, now reportedly second-guessing Hillary over her role in her husband's numerous scandals. All of that plus presidential GOP candidate Senator Marco Rubio is here tonight on "Hannity." (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (NEWSBREAK) HANNITY: Welcome back to "Hannity." There is a major development in Hillary Clinton's ongoing server scandal. Now, as our own Catherine Herridge first reported, e-mails on Clinton's unsecure server were found to have contained information that was beyond top secret. Now, despite being under FBI investigation and mounting evidence against her, now, Clinton has used nearly every excuse in the book to try and brush this scandal aside. Take a look. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HILLARY CLINTON, D-N.Y., FMR. SEC. OF STATE, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When I got to work as secretary of state, I opted for convenience to use my personal e-mail account, which was allowed by the State Department, because I thought it would be easier to carry just one device for my work and for my personal e-mails instead of two. I think that it might have been smarter to have those two devices from the very beginning. I did not receive nor sent anything that was classified. ED HENRY, FOX NEWS: (INAUDIBLE) Did you wipe the server? CLINTON: What, like with a cloth or something? No. By the way, you may have seen that I recently launched a Snapchat account. I love it! Those messages disappear all by themselves! My use of personal e-mail was allowed by the State Department. It clearly wasn't the best choice. (END VIDEO CLIP) HANNITY: My favorite is, "Like with a cloth? Back with more reaction, 2016 Republican presidential candidate Senator Ted Cruz. Senator, this seems to be getting more serious. The intelligence community inspector general, Charles McCullough, laid out findings after review by the intelligence agencies identifying several dozen additional classified e-mails, including Special Access Programs, SAP, a level of classification beyond top secret. Now, that would be a huge -- that would be multiple felonies that we're talking about here. CRUZ: Yes. HANNITY: Do you suspect she might not end up being the nominee but might end up being indicted? CRUZ: Listen, these are very, very serious charges coming from the inspector general. The SAP files, which is the higher level of classification -- the reason they get that higher level of classification because you can reveal intelligence collection methods and sources. The reason it has that classification is you don't want our covert operatives at risk, potentially at risk of being compromised or even kidnapped or murdered by revealing the information, the intelligence that they have collected. And for her to have this on an unsecured server that I guess it was reported was in a bathroom somewhere -- that is a very, very serious allegation. And I would note General Petraeus was criminally prosecuted. Right now, the Obama Pentagon is trying to strip him of one of his stars for doing what appears on the face to be much, much less than Hillary Clinton did. It really raises the suspicion that the Obama White House is behaving as it always does, putting politics ahead of the law and ahead of defending this nation's interests and national security. HANNITY: I want to go back to what came up in the debate, this "New York values" issue. It was an issue that came up that I took personally, and the result was I got many invitations to become citizens of other states, or certainly move to those states. But Andrew Cuomo said this about conservatives. I want you to listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. ANDREW CUOMO, D, NEW YORK: Who are they? Are they these extreme conservatives who are right-to-life, pro-assault weapon, anti-gay? Is that who they are? Because if that's who they are and if they are the extreme conservatives, they have no place in the state of New York because that's not who New Yorkers are. (END VIDEO CLIP) HANNITY: I'm pro-life. I am pro-Second Amendment. I'm pro-traditional marriage. I'm not anti-anything. That is a pretty severe thing for the governor of a state to say, basically saying I'm not wanted in this state. And they do take a lot of my tax money, I will point out to you, nearly 10 percent state, nearly 4 percent city tax. Your reaction. CRUZ: Well, look, that comment reflects the arrogance of the big government liberals who have been running New York politics for a long time. That comment manifests exactly what New York values are. And you know, I would note that the phrase "New York values," when I wrought it up, it came originally from Donald Trump, from his own words. He did an interview with Tim Russert, long interview, where he explained his views that he was very, very, very pro-choice, that he supported partial-birth abortion, which is really an extreme view on the issue of life, that he was in favor of partial-birth abortion and he was open to gay marriage because he had been born and raised in New York, and his background -- he said he has the views of New York and that New York views and New York values are different, and he explicitly says they're different from Iowa values. Well, he's right in that. And it's interesting that Donald took such offense when I repeated his own words and said, Well, he reflects New York values. HANNITY: And you apologized to New Yorkers on my radio show. CRUZ: I did, indeed. I apologized to the millions of conservatives in New York who've been abandoned by liberal politicians. I apologized to all the men and women that want to work in New York but can't because Governor Cuomo's banned fracking, and so they don't get high-paying jobs that people just south in Pennsylvania get. I apologized to all of the African-American children who Mayor de Blasio tried to throw out of their charter schools, which were giving them lifeline to the American dream. And I apologized in particular to the cops and to the firefighters and all the 9/11 heroes, who had no choice but, stand and turn their back on Mayor de Blasio because over and over again, he sides with the criminals and looters rather than the brave men and women in blue! HANNITY: Let me give you an opportunity -- we're going to be in Iowa next week, so I assume we'll have you on the program at least one more time before the Iowa caucuses, but -- and in fairness, I'll give Mr. Trump -- I agree this is right now looking like a two-man race -- an opportunity do so, as well. But closing arguments, policy differences, foreign policy, the Iranian deal. What would a Ted Cruz, Senator Cruz, President Cruz, White House look like versus, in your mind, a Donald Trump White House? CRUZ: Well, Sean, every one of us has had the experience of supporting politicians who say good things on the campaign trail and then they don't do what they say. It's why people are so frustrated with Republican leadership in Congress because we were promised if we had Republican majorities in Congress, they would do something. They wouldn't just cut deals with Harry Reid and the Democrats. So what I would suggest to voters -- don't listen to what any of the candidates say on the campaign trail. Campaigns' rhetoric is cheap. Ignore what I say. Ignore what Donald says. Look to our records. Who has actually stood up and fought? If you say you're going to take on Washington, when you have stood up and led the fight? For example, every Republican says they oppose ObamaCare. The question you ought to ask, in 2013, when we had an epic drag- down battle, where were you in that fight? I was standing with millions of Americans leading the fight against ObamaCare. Mr. Trump was nowhere to be found. He was not part of that fight. He didn't show up for that fight. In 2013, when Harry Reid and Barack Obama and Chuck Schumer came after the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, millions of Americans rose up to defend our constitutional rights. Once again, I was proud to lead that fight. Once again Mr. Trump was nowhere to be found. He had been advocating previously for restricting so-called assault weapons. And when it came a time to defend the Second Amendment, he wasn't there. And even on amnesty -- you know, on the campaign trail. Donald likes to talk a lot about amnesty. Well, we had an epic drag-down battle in 2013 on amnesty, where President Obama and Chuck Schumer joined with establishment Republicans like Marco Rubio to push through a massive amnesty plan. And it passed the Senate. It was about to pass the House. You remember, Sean, Republican leadership in the House was going to join with the Democrats and pass it over the objections of Republicans. And I stood shoulder to shoulder with Jeff Sessions and Steve King and millions of Americans defending our sovereignty, standing against amnesty, fighting to secure the borders. On the other side was Marco Rubio, who was with Chuck Schumer and Barack Obama. And missing from the entire battle was Donald Trump! If he cared about this issue so much, where was he when the fight was on the verge of being lost, and if millions of us hadn't risen up, Barack Obama would have granted amnesty to 12 million people here illegally and we would have lost this battle? And what I would suggest is as the scriptures tell us, you shall know them by their fruits. Don't listen to the words of the candidates, look at the walk and the action. That's how we determine. And I'll make one final point. The most important determination anyone is making in this election is who's prepared to be commander-in-chief. Who has the experience, who has the knowledge, who has the clarity of vision, the strength and resolve and the judgment to keep this country safe? If I am elected president, we will defeat radical Islamic terrorism. We will utterly destroy ISIS, and Iran will not get nuclear weapons. I will rip to shreds this Iranian nuclear deal. Donald Trump has pledged to keep the deal in place and try to negotiate! You don't negotiate with the Ayatollah Khamenei, who chants "Death to America," you defeat him! And we need a leader who doesn't get rattled by the latest drop in polls, who doesn't wake up in the morning with a frenzy of tweets, but rather has the clarity of vision and strength to keep this country safe. That's what I'll do as president, Sean, and I think that's why conservatives are uniting behind us across all the country. It's why the establishment is headed to Donald. HANNITY: All right, Senator, we'll be in Iowa most of next week, and we'll, hopefully, see you and all the other candidates there. Thank you so much. Only 12 days to go. Here we are. Game time.
  3. Roger Bissell

    Super Tuesday 2 is here!!

    Decision time, America.
  4. The July 2017 issue of Journal of Ayn Rand Studies is now available! https://www.nyu.edu/projects/sciabarra/notablog/archives/002284.html
  5. Roger Bissell

    Objectivist Esthetics, R.I.P.

    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
  6. It's in print! Available here: https://www.createspace.com/7277050?ref=1147694&utm_id=6026 "How the Martians Discovered Algebra" by Roger E Bissell This exploration of induction and philosophy of mathematics is presented as a look "under the hood" at the process of mathematical theorizing, a detailed view of how the process of induction actually works. It also provides an alternative to the mind-numbing constructs of modern logic, mathematics, and set theory, explaining the true nature of zero and empty sets and revealing the flaw in Cantor's writings on infinity.There are original ideas here, including the author's view that zero and the empty set function as "operation blockers," as well as his explanation of why the value of the zero power of any number is always 1. The author also offers his own discovery of a new method for generating Pythagorean triples. He lays out both the deductive validation of his method and the details of his exploration of the Pythagorean equation that uncovered the relationships underlying his method.Academics, college students, and intelligent laypersons interested in philosophy and mathematics will all find this a challenging and stimulating read. They will be rewarded with new perspectives, not only on the theoretical landscape of mathematics and logic, but also on the value in learning the mental processes involved in induction, as well as the endless opportunities for fascination and delight to be obtained from mathematical discovery.… CREATESPACE.COM
  7. Roger Bissell

    How the Martians Discovered Algebra

    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
  8. Roger Bissell

    How the Martians Discovered Algebra

    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
  9. Roger Bissell

    How the Martians Discovered Algebra

    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
  10. Roger Bissell

    Gaseous burbles from "the swamp"

    [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
  11. Roger Bissell

    Reason Papers (Summer 2017)

    Well said, Brant. No need to write better. ;-) REB
  12. Roger Bissell

    Reason Papers (Summer 2017)

    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
  13. Roger Bissell

    Reason Papers (Summer 2017)

    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.
  14. Roger Bissell

    Reason Papers (Summer 2017)

    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
  15. Roger Bissell

    Scott Ryan

    Scott Ryan, who styles himself as a "somewhat sympathetic critic" of Rand and Objectivism, wrote this very interesting and helpful essay a few years ago and had it published in Peter Saint-Andre's Monadnock Review. The essay is posted at this location: Scott Ryan on The Rational Temper: Brand Blanshard and What Objectivists Can Learn from Him
  16. Roger Bissell

    How the Martians Discovered Algebra

    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
  17. Roger Bissell

    How the Martians Discovered Algebra

    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
  18. Roger Bissell

    How the Martians Discovered Algebra

    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. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/07/170712145654.htm
  19. Roger Bissell

    How the Martians Discovered Algebra

    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
  20. Roger Bissell

    How the Martians Discovered Algebra

    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
  21. Roger Bissell

    How the Martians Discovered Algebra

    No, it is more like a bat. If used improperly, it will *produce* foul balls. REB
  22. Roger Bissell

    How the Martians Discovered Algebra

    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
  23. Roger Bissell

    How the Martians Discovered Algebra

    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.)
  24. IMO, these lectures should be transcribed and sold as a book!! Perhaps updated, expanded, or whatever -- but definitely offered in written form. They're part of our Objectivist heritage! I know, they're available (still, I hope, aren't they?) from Laissez-Faire Books as tapes or CDs. If they're not, then maybe we could approach The Objectivist Center (who sell Nathaniel's Basic Principles lectures on CD), perhaps as a combined recorded/printed version. Thoughts on this? In the meantime, here is the copy from the brochure Academic Associates sent out in the early 1970s. Enjoy! REB ======================================================= The ability to reason is man's most important faculty--the attribute which lifts him above all other species. Yet, the science of using his rational faculty effectively has been almost entirely neglected. Most people fail to realize that thinking is not an automatic process, known to everyone "instinctively." It is, indeed, an acquired skill and--like every human skill--it involves certain principles which have to be identified and learned. Principles of Efficient Thinking was developed by Barbara Branden to help meet this need. Her course deals with thinking in both its theoretical and practical aspects. The theoretical aspect covers in detail the principles that make possible the most efficient use of one's mind; the practical aspect covers specific techniques by which one avoids thinking errors and maximizes the productiveness of one's mental effort. As part of the curriculum of Nathaniel Branden Institute, the course was attended by tens of thousands of students in cities throughout the United States and Canada. With the closing of NBI (of which Barbara Branden was Administrative Director), and with Miss Branden now devoting her full time to writing a novel, these lectures have not been availab.e Academic Associates, an educational service corporation, was fortunate in being able to arrange for the release of these lectures in permanent form. The entire course has been recorded on twenty long-play records; each lecture is complete on two records in a beautiful, deluxe album. With the exception of lecture nine, which is a guest lecture by Nathaniel Branden, the course is given by Barbara Branden. Many of the lectures have been re-recorded, to improve sound quality, to slightly revise, to update references and to make the contents readily understandable to those with no previous philosophical raining. The course is substantially the same as that offered by NBI, which proved to be one of the Institute's most popular courses. 1. Introduction to Thinking. Why a science of thinking is necessary--Consequences of faulty thinking methods--The relation between efficient thinking and intelligence--the philosophical presuppositions of efficient thinking. 2. Focusing and Problem-Solving. Levels of mental focus--The state of full mental clarity--The motives and the consequences of the failure to focus mentally--The role of purpose, specificity and question-asking in problem-solving. 3. The Automatic Functions of the Mind. The nature of the subconscious--The proper use of the subconscious--Subconscious integrations and the emotions--Creative thinking and the subconscious--The psychology of "inspiration." 4. The Conceptual Level of Consciousness (Part 1). Concepts as the "microfilm" of the mind--The destroyers of intelligence--Thinking in principles--Thinking in essentials--"Concrete-bound thinking"--"Counterfeit" thinking. 5. The Conceptual Level of Consciousness (Part 2). The "socialized consciousness" and the destruction of language--The importance of knowing the source and validation of one's concepts--The role of integration in thinking--Evasion as the sabotaging of consciousness--Context-holding. 6. Emotions as Tools of Cognition. The manner in which wishes and fears can distort the thinking processes--"Emotional-perceptual" thinking; its nature, causes, mechanism and consequences. 7. Language and Definitions. Language as the tool of thought--The substitution of images and emotions for language--Non-verbal and sub-verbal "thought"--Basic principles of definitions. 8. Common Aberrations in Thinking. The fallacy of equating an abstraction with a concrete--The danger of false axioms--Failures of discrimination in thinking--Intellectual "package-dealing"--"Thinking in a square"--Psycho-epistemological "Platonism." 9. The Fallacy of the "Stolen Concept" (Guest lecture by Nathaniel Branden). The meaning of the "stolen concept"--Common examples of the fallacy: "All property is theft"; "I think, therefore I am"; "Who created the universe?"; "The rights of the public supercede individual rights"; "The acceptance of reason is an act of faith." 10. Psychological Causes of Inefficient Thinking. The surrender of the will to efficacy--Failure of self-esteem--The "malevolent universe" premise--Social metaphysics--Emotional repression--The source and conditions of intellectual certainty.
  25. 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!