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Found 8 results

  1. Where Ayn Rand Learned a Lot of Philosophy I just came across a very interesting tidbit. According to Leonard Peikoff in a podcast, Ayn Rand got a lot of her notions of philosophy from a text he used when he was in college. He claimed she read the thing cover to cover. The podcast: Is It Necessary To Read Kant In Order To Denounce Him? btw - He says the requirement is different (I think he means something like common sense requirement). He says reading Rand is a breeze and reading Kant is excruciating, so if you get a fair overview of Kant's thinking, that works. He claims when he was younger, he followed Kant's reasoning from sentence-by-sentence commentary by Peyton, however, I don't know who that particular Peyton is. The passage from the podcast where he talked about the book Rand read: If you are interested, you can still get this book, but it looks like it's out of print: A History of Philosophy by B. A. G Fuller. For those who criticize Rand's knowledge of philosophy and the history of philosophy, I wonder what ideas she got from this book. Michael
  2. Following Wolf's link to Helen Mirren as Ayn Rand, imbd.com gave me this: http://www.imdb.com/list/ls059172447?ref_=tt_rls_4 Five of the ten films are about Nietzsche. Also, despite the actual ideas of most of these, I found it typically sad that their "official" review of The Passion of Ayn Rand was such a slur: Take Socrates… In The Clouds, he is satirized as offering "wrong logic" that can be used to disprove obvious truths. In The Clouds, the father of the wastrel youth wants Socrates to teach him "wrong logic" so that he can argue away his creditors. Meanwhile, Socrates is in a washtub hung from the ceiling so that he can be closer to the highest truths. Just sayin'… by what standard is any philosopher not guilty of "eccentric" ideas? We saw Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure back in the 1980s, and we still speak of "philosophizing with So-crates." Like when my wife is going to ask me what I have been doing all afternoon, I am going to say "philosophizing with So-crates and my Objectivist friends."
  3. http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/01/what-happened-before-the-big-bang-the-new-philosophy-of-cosmology/251608/ "Look, physics has definitely avoided what were traditionally considered to be foundational physical questions, but the reason for that goes back to the foundation of quantum mechanics. The problem is that quantum mechanics was developed as a mathematical tool. Physicists understood how to use it as a tool for making predictions, but without an agreement or understanding about what it was telling us about the physical world. And that's very clear when you look at any of the foundational discussions. This is what Einstein was upset about; this is what Schrodinger was upset about. Quantum mechanics was merely a calculational technique that was not well understood as a physical theory. Bohr and Heisenberg tried to argue that asking for a clear physical theory was something you shouldn't do anymore. That it was something outmoded. And they were wrong, Bohr and Heisenberg were wrong about that. But the effect of it was to shut down perfectly legitimate physics questions within the physics community for about half a century. And now we're coming out of that, fortunately."
  4. When the Paul Ryan flap hit the press, Amy Peikoff interviewed Yaron Brook about Paul Ryan's having been "influenced" by Ayn Rand. ( "Don't Let It Go Unheard" blog radio with Yaron Brook hear here.) At about 8:50 min:sec in to about 10:45 min:sec out, Yaron Brook implied that Objectivism is not a natural rights philosophy. This was new to my understanding. I thought that in the essay, "Man's Rights" Ayn Rand said: "Whether one believes that man is the product of a Creator or of nature, the issue of man's origin does not alter the fact that he is an entity of a specific kind - a rational being - that he cannot function successfully under coercion, and that rights are a necessary condition of his particular mode of survival." ("Man's Rights," The Virtue of Selfishness, hb, page 126.) But, this is not absolute. We may well indeed learn language socially, but alone on an island, Robinson Crusoe still needed language. And, he needed morality. But he did not need rights. Rights only exist in a social context. Robinson Crusoe could act immorally, but he could not violate his own rights. Thus, rights are not intrinsic to human nature but only exist within the context of social life. ... or is there something I am missing? (... within the context of Objectivist canon.)
  5. A subject not always discussed in polite company concerns the extreme people attracted to the logic of physics and mathematics. Suffice it to say I have run into a number of unusual people of one sort or another in physics and mathematics - not so much in the other sciences or engineering. I believe many people have a mistaken caricature of what kind of person might be a physicist in particular. There are of course those who fit preconceptions precisely and they are remembered - thus keeping the caricature alive. The other extreme physicists most people do not know of: extreme athletes, martial artists, musicians, drug addicts, ladies men, warrior/soldiers, politicians, the mentally ill, and con-men. Some very unique individuals have several of these extremes or combinations of them. Because it is not expected a great many people can be manipulated by gifted physicists who might also be using one of their other extreme talents. I say this because like in life generally the nice guy doesn’t always finish first. The nice guy in this context would be someone playing science straight. Like any society the vast majority are likely playing it fairly straight but are easily led around by a small group who have emerged as leaders or known voices of the consensus or orthodoxy. Like in society in general it is best to be very weary of those attempting to control consensus. They tend to be political central planners at heart. There are many ways to win hearts and mind to control a point of view. That’s just my 2 cents worth to think about while examining the influence of some famous figures in physics. Think physics on the surface – then likely an extreme of what you see in other famous people just underneath. Dennis
  6. Are there others who wish to explore this topic with me. Ron Merrill in his book was so close with his uncovering of Rand's first edition of We the Living, comparing it with her revised edition, and her rationalization that her English was wavery at the time she wrote it. Barbara Branden in her book describes Rand as buying Zarathustra as her first book in English when she got here and underlining all her favorite passages. So we know she perfected her English by reading Nietzsche. As William Burroughs says, a good way to learn a working knowledge of a foreign language is to take a book in that language that is one of your favorites and the same book in your native language. By the time you finish you will have a decent command of the language. I don't know if you have experienced how a favorite writer, at an early impressionable age, can take over your imagination, your thinking, your language, etc. But I guess many of you do as Rand has done that for many readers. There are other parallels with Nietzsche that we could discuss. Rand's linguistic gifts received from Nietzsche and his unique way of thinking and writing. Yes? No?
  7. I realize this news article is a year old but thought it might be of interest. I know many Objectivists have found similarities with and even go so far as to practice Buddhism but this is an event that surprised me. I have been reading up mainly on Theravada Buddhism recently to try to understand the interest among Objectivists with Buddha's philosophy. This is one stark example of how in addition to Buddhism's overall embracing self-sacrifice, Theravada (which is as close to the original teachings of Buddha himself) embraces mysticism despite it's tacit rejection of it (i.e. atheism) and Buddhism's rejection of a God as well as its many followers touting it being a philosophy and not a religion. “Those who become bored by conventional “Bible” religions, and seek “enlightenment” by way of the dissolution of their own critical faculties into nirvana in any form, had better take a warning. They may think they are leaving the realm of despised materialism, but they are still being asked to put their reason to sleep, and to discard their minds along with their sandals.” - Christopher Hitchens, "God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything" http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/nov/25/abortion-reform-buddhism-thailand The discovery of more than 2,000 foetuses stored at a Bangkok temple has made front-page news across Thailand. As most abortion is illegal in Thailand, the case has shone a spotlight on a massive backstreet industry and sparked national debate about the country's current abortion laws, which date from the 1950s. With abortion routinely recognised as a "sin" in Theravada Buddhism, religion has played a significant social and political role in this debate. The undertaker at Wat Phai Ngern is accused of accepting regular deliveries of foetuses in plastic bags from an intermediary, who was paid by clinics to dispose of them discreetly. Buddhist temples are often used to store bodies prior to cremation but, with the local crematorium out of order, complaints about the smell led to the discovery of the operation. The bags are thought to have come from up to 20 different locations, sparking a crackdown on 3,900 suspected illegal clinics nationwide. In 1993 the Thai health ministry estimated there were 80,000 illegal abortions a year. An earlier study suggested the total was closer to 300,000. In urban areas doctors are responsible for many of the illegal abortions by providing them for congenital disorders and HIV infections. This is despite the fact the law only permits abortions in cases of rape or physical risk to the woman's health. Illegality means that medical standards remain low – a study in 1993 found that over 1% of women attending regional hospital for illegal abortions subsequently died due to complications. Theravada Buddhism in Thailand is a socially conservative force. About 95% of the population are Buddhist and Buddhism remains closely tied to the state. Sociologist James Hughes explains that most eastern Buddhist commentators, through an acceptance of karmic rebirth, believe consciousness begins at conception. Therefore, "all abortion incurs the karmic burden of killing". While some monks such as Phra Thepwethi believe in a "middle way" (which regards abortion as a sin, but sometimes as the best option) the framing of abortion in terms of sin still has a significant cultural influence. A survey of women who had had abortions found that more than half were fearful of community exposure and a third worried that they would suffer bad karma. Andrea Whittaker, in her book, Abortion, Sin and the State in Thailand also explains that "fear of bap (sin) is the most common reason given by women with unplanned pregnancies for why they didn't abort". Thai Buddhism has also had a key political role in maintaining current abortion laws, which have remained unchanged since 1956. Public discussions on reform began in the 1970s and culminated in 1981 by passing of amendment in the House of Representatives. This proposed widening the legality of abortion to include considerations of mental wellbeing, congenital abnormalities and some cases of contraceptive failure. However, Major General Chamlong Srimuang mobilised a powerful religious coalition to successfully lobby against the amendment. Chamlong's intervention marked a more overt role for Buddhism in politics. He is a member of the Buddhist movement Santi Asoke, whose founder, Phra Phothirak, challenged the idea that Thai monks should not comment on contemporary social issues. Phothirak believed that monks had a duty to speak out to oppose abortion as the killing of human life, arguing that "those who say they are religious but who don't say anything don't know about religion or morality". The Santi Asoke sect, which broke away from the Buddhist sangha in 1989, has been described as "radical Buddhism" for its anti-modernist conservatism and strict monastic codes. Chamlong, now a leading political figure, is responsible for the political wing of the Santi Asoke movement. For these followers, abortion is linked to the influence of western promiscuity and is "un-Buddhist, anti-religious and therefore un-Thai". Members from the mainstream Buddhist sanga also continue to oppose the liberalisation of abortion laws. After a conference in 2006 where NGOs called for the wider legalisation of abortion, a monk named Phra Mahamanoj responded: "We Buddhists … firmly disagree with legal abortion and the destruction of life. If you don't want something to happen, don't do it." Following the recent temple discovery, leading monks have again been speaking out. Phramaha Vudhijaya Vajiramedhi was unequivocal: "In [the] Buddhist view, both having an abortion and performing an abortion amount to murder. Those involved in abortions will face distress in both this life and the next because their sins will follow them." The scandal has given momentum to calls for political reform. A Democrat MP has proposed a bill on "consensual and necessary abortions", which would liberalise current laws. This has been supported by Maytinee Bhongsvej, of the Association for the Promotion of the Status of Women (APSW), but she believes that change will be difficult to implement. "People's attitudes are the major obstacle. For Thai society, abortion is a sin," she says. The prime minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva, has ruled out any legal changes, saying that the current laws are "good enough". Thai advocacy groups like Women's Health Advocacy Foundation point out that liberalising abortion laws would be in line with public opinion, would align the law more closely with the realities of current abortion provision and would also significantly reduce preventable medical complications. However, any reform must contend with Theravada Buddhism – which, with its integral part in political and social structures, retains a significant influence over the debate on abortion in Thailand.