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Found 9 results

  1. Folks, I have just published my SECOND philosophy book - this one on the theory of propositions and related topics. You can check it out on Amazon.com here: https://www.amazon.com/Whats-Your-File-Folder-Propositions/dp/1689839163/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=what's+in+your+file+folder&qid=1568325732&s=books&sr=1-1 This book takes a deep dive into Ayn Rand’s theory of knowledge. It explains why her followers failed to develop a model of the proposition fulfilling the promise of her pioneering work on concepts—and it reveals the essence of propositions and the principles by which they operate in our gaining knowledge by identifying the facts of reality. These revelations are based on a fuller appreciation and application of some of Rand’s most pregnant ideas: the metaphor of concepts as “mental file folders”—the unit-perspective as the key that unlocks the conceptual stage of awareness and welds together its three levels—form and content of cognitive awareness both being objective—and consciousness essentially consisting of differentiation and integration (functionally) and subject and object (structurally). On this basis, the author offers a significant revision to Rand's model of concepts and a new model of propositions, giving considerable attention to axioms and statements about nonexistent subjects and offering a fuller explanation of how syllogisms function in grasping truth. The author's main contention is that Objectivism's epistemology (and epistemology in general) lacks a viable model of propositional knowledge due to neglect of the "unit-perspective" view of concepts. This pioneering insight of Rand's, he says, not only is an essential building block of her concept theory, but also is the means for providing the clearest X-ray picture of our multilayered conceptual knowledge. Using the unit-perspective to expand Rand's theory of concepts, the author then introduces "duplex" and "triplex" units, which he shows are the components of propositions and syllogisms, which are composed of concepts that integrate single or "simplex" units, as he calls them. The author also argues that Rand's largely underdeveloped concept of the "dual-aspect objective" is vital for understanding how knowledge is grounded in reality. he explains how consciousness essentially involves an interaction between a conscious subject (i.e., organism) and some of aspect of the world which becomes the object of that subject's awareness, then applies this idea to perception, introspection, concepts, propositions, and syllogisms. The author also defines content of awareness carefully distinguishing it from both object and form of awareness, and applies those distinctions throughout.In addition, the author discusses how truth is both dual-aspect and contextual, and he shows how units, too, have a dual aspect, even on the level of syllogisms. He also shows how differentiation and integration are the conscious processes at work, for better or worse, in both logic and in logical errors, which include the fallacies of "Frozen Abstraction" and "False Alternative," as well as a long-standing Objectivist conflation of falsity and contradiction and a relatively more recent Objectivist error, the fallacy of "genuine awareness."
  2. This is the latest part of a series of videos uploaded recently by the Ayn Rand Institute, some of which are repackaged audio files (of which some are not always dated precisely). A careful listener may hear the hint of approval she would have for a President Trump, who is said to have dined with her in 1977 ... just after her secret affair with Pierre Elliott Trudeau came to a sad end. Qui eu percipit accusata. Nam ex perpetua forensibus reprimique, mei sale mucius te. Ei postea sanctus nam. Natum suavitate pertinacia sit ea, quas fugit ius ei, an augue utroque abhorreant qui. Dicunt multa. Quia similes sunt.
  3. I have a great group of friends that I enjoy being/talking with immensely; we live in different parts of the country so we usually communicate through online discussions. As of late, I've become less interested in speaking with them because it seems the answer to nearly every question anyone asks is simply a link to an Ayn Rand quotation on the subject. Here's the thing...I'm perfectly capable of googling Ayn Rand's response on a topic... or perusing any one of my stack of Rand books to study her thoughts on a matter. But - some of my friends are brilliant people, and I'm sincerely interested in learning how their minds work, and hearing them expound on a subject. When I confronted the most intelligent guy in the group about it his response was "Rand was right so why should I have my own thoughts." What would Rand say about this? Where would we be if she had said "Ahhh, Nietzsche is right...I don't need to think about things anymore!"
  4. Ayn Rand has the best moral philosophy ever invented. Karl Popper has the most important breakthrough in epistemology. Most Objectivists seem to think that Popper and Rand are incompatible, and Popper is an enemy of reason. They have not understood him. These lists are intended to help explain my motivation for integrating Rand and Popper, and also to help highlight many similarities they already have. Points Popperian epistemology and Objectivist epistemology have in common. In Popperian epistemology I include additions and improvements by David Deutsch and myself: - opposition to subjectivism and relativism - fallibilism - says that objective knowledge is attainable (in practice by fallible humans) - realism: says reality is objective - connected to reality: we have to observe reality, keep our ideas connected to reality - asserts there is objective truth - attention to context ("problem situation" or sometimes "problem" is the common Popperian term meaning context. E.g. a Popperian will ask "What is the problem this is addressing?" and be asking about context.) - pro-science - opposition to positivism - opposition to the language analysis school of philosophy - say that most professional philosophers are rather crap - opposition to both skeptical and authoritarian schools of epistemology - keeps our concepts "open-end[ed]" (ITOE). That means: possible to improve in the future as we learn more. - says that there are objective moral truths - does not seek a "frozen, arrested state of knowledge" (ITOE) - written clearly and understandably, unlike much philosophy - says epistemology is useful and valuable to real people; it matters to life; it's practical - you can't force an idea on someone. they can choose to accept it or not - you can't implant an idea in someone. you can't pour it in, stick it in with surgery, make them absorb it, etc. they get to think, interpret, choose. - free will - people are not born with some unchangeable nature and innate ideas. we can be self-made men. we can learn, change, improve, progress - emphasis on active use of one's mind, active learning - no inherent conflicts due to objective truth - understanding of unconscious and inexplicit ideas - if two ideas contradict, at least one is false - integration of epistemology with morality, politics, and more - rejection of authority - full rejection of idealism, solipsism - strong emphasis on clarity - rejection of limits on human minds - reject probabilistic approaches to epistemology - looks at man as rational and capable - value of critical thinking including self-criticism Strengths of Objectivist epistemology: - stolen concept - package deal - check your premises - ideas about integrating all one's knowledge and removing all contradictions - measurement omission and concept formation ideas both worthwhile, though flawed - good criticisms of many opponents of reason - good understanding of essentials vs non-essentials, e.g. for definitions - idea about automating some thinking - good explanation of what objectivity is - Judge, and be prepared to be judged Strengths of Popperian epistemology: - evolution creates knowledge - conjectures and refutations method - piecemeal, incremental method. value of every little improvement - identification of, and solution to, justificationism - addresses induction - conjectural, fallible, objective knowledge - idea that we progress from misconception to better misconception - myth of the framework - value of culture clash - emphasis on bold highly-criticizable claims, sticking your neck out to learn more - no shame in mistakes - value of criticism. criticism is a gift - understanding of rationality as being about error correction - unimportance of starting points. you can start anywhere, improve from there - criticism of definitions - criticism of foundations, bases - criticism of essentialism - criticism of manifest truth (and self-evidence, obviousness, etc) - static and dynamic memes - structural epistemology - coercion and common preferences - understanding of conflict and symmetry - applications to parenting, education, relationships - understanding of tradition - explanation of value of external criticism (if everyone has some blind spots, but some people have different blind spots then each other, then it's productive to share criticism with each other. a little like comparative advantage) - emphasis on critical method, criticism (ideas stand unless refuted) - let our ideas die in our stead Some of you are now wondering about details. I know. But it's so much! Let's do it like this: if you are interested in one of the topics, ask about it and I can elaborate. If you would preference a reference to existing material on the topic, that's fine too.
  5. I am presently working on reading Cosmopolis through Ayn Rand for a symposium on DeLillo and a panel on Cosmopolis. Right now I'm falling asleep though. Tomorrow is another day.
  6. Click here to take the test! This test has been designed to assess your comprehension of The Ominous Parallels (TOP). Questions have been formed from Chapter 1 and 2 only. Subsequent tests will cover additional chapters of the book. It is not intended to be an open book test. There are 20 questions – each is worth 5 points. This test can be taken by students before and after reading TOP (as a pre and/or post-test). Only reading Ayn Rand’s fictional work will not be sufficient preparation to excel on this test. This assessment can help students of Objectivism and study-group organizers determine the ideal study materials and is not intended to evaluate one’s agreement with Objectivism. Test Score Range: 0-60: Minimal understanding (Low) – Basic study needed 65-70: Moderate understanding (Low-Mid) – Basic study needed 75-80: Good understanding (Intermediate) – Basic study review needed 85-90: Competent (High-Mid) – Proceed to more technical studies 95-100: Advanced (High) - Proceed to more technical studies In order to receive your test score, you will be asked to provide your name and email address. Your test score will be emailed to you. Your name and email address will be added to our general contact mailing list. Your name and test scores will not be published. All marketing emails sent from The Culture of Reason Center include the option to unsubscribe. Like this Test? Please Make a Donation to The Culture of Reason Center Constructive feedback is welcome Email: cultureofreasoncenter@gmail.com Other CRC Tests Include: Objectivism: General Knowledge (01) Objectivism: General Knowledge (02) Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology Test (Introduction, Chapters 1-8, Summary) The Virtue of Selfishness Test 01
  7. Click here to take the test! This test has been designed to assess your comprehension of The Virtue of Selfishness (VOS) [Centennial Edition]. Questions have been formed from Chapter 2 through Chapter 6. Subsequent tests will cover additional chapters of the book. It is not intended to be an open book test. There are 25 questions – each is worth 4 points. This test can be taken by students before and after reading VOS (as a pre and/or post-test). Only reading Ayn Rand’s fictional work will not be sufficient preparation to excel on this test. This assessment can help students of Objectivism and study-group organizers determine the ideal study materials and is not intended to evaluate one’s agreement with Objectivism. Test Score Range: 0-60: Minimal understanding (Low) – Basic study needed 64-68: Moderate understanding (Low-Mid) – Basic study needed 72-80: Good understanding (Intermediate) – Basic study review needed 84-88: Competent (High-Mid) – Proceed to more technical studies 92-100: Advanced (High) - Proceed to more technical studies In order to receive your test score, you will be asked to provide your name and email address. Your test score will be emailed to you. Your name and email address will be added to our general contact mailing list. Your name and test scores will not be published. All marketing emails sent from The Culture of Reason Center include the option to unsubscribe. Like this Test? Please Make a Donation to The Culture of Reason Center Constructive feedback is welcome Email: cultureofreasoncenter@gmail.com Other CRC Tests Include: The Virtue of Selfishness Test 01 Objectivism: General Knowledge (01) Objectivism: General Knowledge (02) Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology Test (Introduction, Chapters 1-8, Summary) The Ominous Parallels Test 01
  8. I have been reading Ayn Rand Nation by Gary Weiss, not exactly a supporter of Objectivism or libertarianism - but, besides the obligatory liberal-left distortions and put-downs, his experience in meeting with Objectivists in the course of writing his book - resulted in some admiration for Rand, the Objectivist movement, which he cannot resist reporting on. For example in the Introduction and first chapter, he attempts to document some of the evidence of Rand's cultural influence, such as the sales of her books. Much to his surprise, Rand's non-fiction books have also shown a resurgence in sales. Here's what he has to say about The Virtue of Selfishness: "Among the hottest sellers was her tribute to self-indulgence, The Virtue of Selfishness. This collection of dense essays, published in 1964, is one of the most popular books on philosophy and ethics in the English language. That's right, I don't mean one of the most popular books at the Ayn Rand Institute Bookstore in Irvine, California. I mean the English language. [ Italics are the author's] ...Virtue consistently ranks among the best-selling books on Amazon on the subjects of "ethics and morality," well ahead of conventional tomes...Virtue also usually ranks high in Amazon sales ranking of books on epistemology, the theory of knowedge." The sales and influence that he documents for Atlas Shrugged are even more impressive.
  9. Seeing as how Rand founded her ethics on an inquiry into value, basically assuming on the part of living beings that they "act to gain and/or keep" ends as part of their nature, I think her account of value could best be restated if it was founded on the Austrian school's axiom of action. I also think that it's necessary to stop regurgitating phrases such as "man's life qua man", "life makes value possible", "there is only one fundamental alternative in the universe: existence or non-existence", etc. For me and for some others I know, their meanings were fuzzy and they prohibited the understanding of what is actually a profound and intuitive argument that no one could rationally deny. (I found that, like F. A. Hayek, I couldn't make "heads nor tails" of Galt's speech the first few times I read it -- until I read Rasmussen's paper, "A Groundwork for Rights" and Tara Smith's Viable Values.) In other words, I believe the argument for life as the ultimate value could be reinterpreted so as to be stated in much clearer terms. The idea of a "premoral choice to live" I also believe is best rejected in favour of Rasmussen and Den Uyl's notion of a natural end that you are always affirming, every time you act: Living beings engage in goal-directed action, pursuing “values” that they “act to gain and/or keep”. This is known as the “action axiom”. Any attempt to deny that living beings act purposefully would itself constitute purposeful action, hence self-refuting. Action is distinguished from unconscious, involuntary responses to physical stimuli. A person asleep or in a coma obviously does not act. But the proposition is that living being acts, i.e. that one of its distinguishing features is conscious, self-directed (or “self-generated”, as Rand termed it) behaviour -- not that it always acts. At the bottom of every decision to engage in a particular action is the decision to engage in any action whatsoever: the, as it were, decision to make decisions. In order to act at all, a living being must evaluate that it would be preferable to be an acting, choosing entity than a non-acting, non-choosing entity. No decision and evaluations can be made without reference to a standard, a parameter one is intending to maximize. Since most ends are merely means to other ends, there must be an end-in-itself, an ultimate standard or, in Rand’s words, “ultimate value” to prevent an infinite regress. Ultimate value gives rise to the phenomenon of choice (i.e. action), by providing a living being with the capacity to reject alternative states of affairs as suboptimal. The decision to act is the decision that existence (life) is preferable to non-existence (death), because life requires, not only particular actions and particular values, but action and valuein themselves. A living being engaged in goal-directed action must therefore have life as its ultimate value. At the most fundamental level, it has decided to maximize this parameter by fulfilling its basic requirement: engaging in action. Consequently, at all other levels, no matter the content of the action (decisions about content also constituting action), life remains the ultimate standard throughout, because without it there could be no evaluation of action as preferable to non-action in the first place. Any attempt to deny that action has life as its ultimate standard qua value would constitute an action affirming life as its ultimate standard qua value: like the action axiom, also self-contradictory and self-refuting. Unlike other ends, life is an end-in-itself, because it is a means to itself. “Life is a process of self-sustaining and self-generated action”; i.e. it is composed of action (good or bad) that takes the shape of a structural, cyclical chain. Goal-directed action requires life qua ultimate value. Life qua ultimate value requires goal-direction action, which itself requires life qua ultimate value. Et cetera. (Conscious living beings cannot avoid engaging in action since the decision not to act would itself be an action.) Obviously, "life" just refers to survival, which Irfan Khawaja helpfully defined in an essay in "Metaethics, Egoism, and Virtue" as the promotion of optimal conditions for the operation of your essence across your natural lifespan. Yet Smith makes clear that the requirements of survival are long-range as well as short-range. Survival includes psychological as wellas physical health. In order to pursue sustenance, human beings must first be convinced their life is worth sustaining. For example, a person who pursues passions, fruitful relationships, hobbies, and a life of self-esteem clearly has better survival prospects than someone who is antisocial and suffers recurring bouts of mania and psychological depression. Human beings must therefore not only eat and have a pulse, but must objectively flourish: live in such a way as to be able to continueto live. We need happiness and self-esteem in the same way a plant needs water. Flourishing is thus, in keeping with the Aristotelian-scholastic moral tradition in which Randian ethics can be confidently categorized, man’s natural end: the summum bonum or ultimate good. I think the argument for moral principles can be stated like this: Goal A could be best achieved by doing X, Y, and Z. You want to achieve Goal A. Therefore, you should do X, Y, and Z. Goal A is your natural end, an "ought" you implicitly accept every time you act. Ergo, asking why you ought to obey moral principles is like asking why you should train for a 100-m sprint. Why run in that case? How can you win without training? As Khawaja wrote in the appendix to his review of Viable Values: "In choosing to live, one is conditionally bound by the requirements of life [...] if I will life as an end, I must will the means to it; if I refuse to will the means, I must give up the end." Your natural end cannot be rejected (unless you somehow completely shut down and stop acting). Hence, moral principles are obligatory.