George H. Smith

Do Cows Like Jazz?

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:cool: Well, they're not as dumb as they look, are they?

(Cows, not muso's.)

And some cool cowbell percussion in there too.

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Very nice George.

And Tony, clearly they are as dumb as they look, they are French!

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Hey, that's from my hometown Marlins. It's unbelievable how many of the people who pack the stands for every game come dressed up as empty seats. The whole upper deck, in this clip.

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As you ordered... http://youtu.be/NSN66uOAHk8

Geez Adam: the best I can say is, it beats those damn vuvuselas (you recall?).

The "bees" from the Olympics you mean?

http://youtu.be/94frhollceo

Aggh!!

Edited by Selene

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Cows like swing and "traditional" jazz (New Orleans style), but they shy away from the complexities of bebop and modern jazz, due to "the cow epistemology." Heh. REB

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Any cadre that makes that much serious methane gets their bar props. What do they like? Whatever the eff they say.

I've heard some of them are into Tom Petty. Others, Pierre Moerlen's Gong.

It depends.

rde

Where's the beef?

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Cows like swing and "traditional" jazz (New Orleans style), but they shy away from the complexities of bebop and modern jazz, due to "the cow epistemology." Heh. REB

Rumor has it that a few cows have committed suicide after being forced to listen to the "free" jazz of of Ornette Coleman. I know how they felt.

Ghs

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Are mind and free will an illusion? An old letter and some quotes. I think I threw in a thought way back when in the OPAR section.  Remember the debate about Objectivists being soft determinists? Peter  

OPAR, pages 191 –193. “. . . life *is* motion, a definite course of motion; if the motion is defaulted on or fails, what ensues is the antithesis of life: stillness, which is the essence of death. Death is the irreversible cessation of vital processes. Leaving aside the disintegration that follows it, death is a state that does not involve or require action. To achieve it, you need simply refrain from doing anything: lie down, do not move, do not eat, call a halt to the vital activities within your control (and, if you are in a hurry, to the pumping of your lungs and the beating of your heart); nothing else is required.

The fact of life – of conditional, goal-directed entities – has profound philosophic significance. It is a key to the nature of man and, as we will see in the next chapter, a necessary and sufficient condition of the existence of values. I must, therefore, stress the reality of the fact. For Objectivism, the distinction between the animate and the inanimate *is* fundamental.

Materialists today, dedicated to monism (a view that reality is a unitary, organic whole with no independent parts. i.e., determinists - Me :O) insist that every science be ‘reducible’ to physics in a sense that denies both consciousness and life. In this view, living organisms are mere “appearance”: they are really nothing but a type of inanimate mechanism, like a highly complex robot or super-computer. This notion denies an entire field of observed data.

Whatever the ultimate explanation of biological phenomena – whether life derives from some as yet unknown (but nonmystical) element combining with matter as we now understand it, or from some special combination of known material ingredients – in either case, it will not alter the existence *or the identity* of a living organism; just as an explanation of consciousness, should such be forthcoming, would not alter *its* existence or identity. An explanation does not erase the reality it explains. No discovery in physics or biology can erase the difference between the living and the inanimate; no future knowledge can invalidate *this* knowledge.

A child unable to grasp so major a distinction as that between the living and the inanimate would be unable to progress very far in concept-formation; it would never reach the stage of science or philosophy. The notion of a sophisticated science retroactively undermining an observed distinction is absurd on its face. Since observations are the base of science, any such notion denies the hierarchical structure of cognition. It represents the fallacy of the stolen concept (or the stolen science.)

Materialists are concept-stealers in another way, too. Robots and the like, to which these theorists seek to reduce life are human inventions modeled on living organisms and designed to achieve human purposes. By their nature, therefore, such inventions presuppose the knowledge of life and the reality of purpose.

No matter what the study of optics discovers, it will never affect the distinction between red and green. The same applies to all observed facts, including the fact of life. No one will ever show that a man being shot and the bullet piercing his body are metaphysically interchangeable entities, since both are “merely collections of atoms in motion.”  One “collection” can *die;* the other cannot. In this profound sense, Ayn Rand is unanswerably right when she says that a living organism, but not matter as such, is indestructible. The one can *become* inanimate; the other already is.

It is with this difference –I am tempted to say this “life and death” difference – that the study of human nature begins.

From: "George H. Smith" To: "*Atlantis" Subject: ATL: Re: Buridan's ass (was "Are mind and will an illusion?") Date: Tue, 27 Feb 2001 16:33:05 -0600

Bill Dwyer quoted Murray Rothbard as follows: "If a man were really indifferent between two alternatives, he could not make any choice between them, and therefore the choice could not be revealed in action....  Any action demonstrates choice based on preference:  preference for one alternative over others." [_Man, Economy, and State_, HB, p. 65]"

Bill then concluded: "In fact, what free will would require is precisely the kind of indifference that Rothbard rejects.  For if we are not indifferent to which alternative we choose, then only one choice is possible, namely, the one that we prefer.  To be sure, there are times that we can and do act against our emotional inclinations, but only because we have a reason to -- only because we perceive a greater, long-range value in choosing the alternative."

Rothbard's discussion of revealed preference is irrelevant to the issue under consideration, for the praxeological meaning of "preference" differs from its psychological meaning. Praxeology, unlike psychology, does not take into account *why* a man chooses such and such; rather, it deals "with any given ends and with the formal implications of the fact that men have ends and employ means to attain them."  This is why "all explanations of the law of marginal utility on psychological or physiological grounds [e.g., the law of satiation of wants] are erroneous." (Murray Rothbard, *Man, Economy, and State,* p. 63.)

It should also be remembered that Rothbard was himself a vigorous defender of free will. As he wrote in "The Mantle of Science": "At the very best, the application of determinism to man is just an agenda for the future. After several centuries of arrogant proclamations, no determinist has come up with anything like a theory determining all of men's actions. Surely the burden of proof must rest on the one advancing a theory, particularly when the theory contradicts man's primary impressions. Surely we can, at the very least, tell the determinists to keep quiet until they can offer their determinations -- including, of course, their advance determinations of each of our reactions to their determining theory. But there is far more that can be said. For determinism, as applied to man, is a self-contradictory thesis, since the man who employs it relies implicitly on the existence of free will. If we are determined in the ideas we accept, then X, the determinist, is determined to believe in determinism, while Y, the believer in free will, is also determined to believe in his own doctrine. Since man's mind is, according to determinism, not free to think and come to conclusions about reality, it is absurd for X to try to convince Y or anyone else of the truth of determinism. In short, the determinist must rely, for the spread of his ideas, on the nondetermined, free-will choices of others, on their free will to adopt or reject his ideas." (*Scientism and Values," ed. Schoeck and Wiggins, p. 161.)

Bill wrote: "But, in order for that choice to be truly free, we must be indifferent to which alternative we choose, in which case, our choice is arbitrary -- not just seemingly arbitrary but ~really~ arbitrary, i.e., no more valuable to us than the alternative.  But in that case, why did we choose it instead of the alternative?  What motivated our choice? ~Nothing did~, according to the doctrine of free will."

Why must we be "indifferent" to an alternative in order for our choice to be "truly free"? This position doesn't become more cogent merely because Bill has stated it repeatedly. I have never said that free choices are unmotivated. Nor have I said they are "arbitrary" in Bill's sense of the word. What I have said is that motives and reasons do not function like mechanistic causes, that a rational mind must evaluate and assess various reasons and causes, and that in this process of decision-making there are a number of choices it can make.

Bill argues, in effect, that our preferences -- a vague catch-all word which he has never clearly defined -- somehow "determine" our choices. But he has not given any argument against the volitionist position that our choices can play a pivotal role in deciding what those preferences are. We can choose among various preferences; and if Bill wants to say that a choice, once it manifests itself in action, exhibits (or "demonstrates") a preference for the object of our action, then this is true (in a praxeological sense) by definition. For praxeologists, such as Rothbard and Mises, *define* human action as goal-directed behavior, as the attempt to replace a less satisfactory state of affairs with one that is more satisfactory, so the goal of a given action is necessarily that for which we have a preference. Bill does not seem to understand the purely formalistic nature of the Misesian praxeology which Rothbard employed.

I wrote: "When a normal person wishes to express the notion that he could not have acted differently than he did, he will usually say something like, 'I had no choice in the matter.'  But not so the soft determinist. When he wants to say that he could not have acted differently, he will say something like, 'I had a choice in the matter, but I was determined to choose as I did'."

And Bill replied: "We have to be careful here to specify exactly what is meant by someone's saying, "I had no choice in the matter."  If a man wants to marry his fiancée more than anything in the world (and sees no reason not to), he will not say that he has "no choice in the matter", but there is a sense in which he doesn't.  Given his values, he has no reason to choose otherwise.  In that case, the alternative of not marrying her is not ~psychologically~ open to him."

I would never use this kind of language -- i.e., I would never say that I have "no choice" but to marry someone (unless perhaps it is literally a shotgun wedding) -- and I don't recall ever meeting someone who thinks like this.  Moreover, to say that a person has "no reason to choose otherwise" in no way implies that his choice is causally determined -- unless, of course, we fail to understand the nature of "reasons" and insist on treating them like mechanistic causes.

 

 

Bill wrote: "However, one can still say that he has "a choice in the matter", if only in the sense that no one is forcing him to marry her -- that he could choose not to marry her if he ~preferred~ not to.  This is the soft determinist's sense of "having a choice in the matter".

This is an old dodge, one that goes back at least to Thomas Hobbes. And it is a perfect example of what I mean when I accuse soft determinists of engaging in word play. When the ordinary person says he chose (say) to go to a movie, he is manifestly *not* saying that his choice was not made under the threat of coercion. Rather, he means that he made a choice between that alternative and others.

The soft determinist want to substitute the *interpersonal* concept of a *voluntary,* non-coerced choice with the *intrapersonal* concept of a *free* choice. This merely bypasses the problem by cashing in on various meanings of "free." If you make a choice without a gun at your head (or some equivalent), then the determinist will say you had a "choice." Fine, but this is not the meaning of "choice" that is involved in the debate over free-will. Lord Acton once estimated that the word "freedom" has been defined in 200 different ways. Although this rich vein of definitions may provide a good deal of wiggle room for the determinist, the practice of hopping from one definition to another doesn't solve any philosophical problems.

I wrote: "The soft determinist may have great faith in the power of this verbal legerdemain to solve complex philosophical problems. But I don't share this interest in word magic, so I will let the matter rest here and move on to more serious issues."

And Bill replied: "This sarcastic remark is completely unwarranted.  There is no verbal legerdemain here, no word magic, only a careful analysis of the issue in terms of customary parlance and the observed facts of human psychology."

 

I

stand by my original statement. What Bill regards as "careful analysis," I see as definition-hopping. In the final analysis, to say that a person acts on the basis of his preferences doesn't tell us anything at all about the free-will problem -- for it doesn't say *how* those preferences are formed; and it doesn't explain how, from a welter of conflicting preferences, one is eventually chosen over others. A theory should have at least some explanatory value, but soft determinism explains nothing at all. It is an article of faith based on the erroneous assumption that "reasons"  in the inner world of consciousness function exactly like "causes" in the external world of physical objects.

As I said before, I prefer to confront the phenomena of consciousness on their own terms, rather than resort to a pseudo-explanation that, in the final analysis, explains nothing at all. When the soft determinist is able to postulate a causal law of consciousness that will enable us to predict our future thoughts and actions, then I will be impressed. Until then, I will continue to regard soft determinism as a circular method of "explanation" that derives from a inappropriate analogy with physical causation.

As it stands now, the only prediction the soft determinist can make is that a person will ultimately act on the basis of his "strongest" preference. Never mind that he cannot specify what this preference is until *after* the choice is made. Never mind that this "prediction" is foolproof, because it can only be made *after* the fact. Never mind all this -- for the soft determinist has convinced himself that he is uttering a profound truth, even though it is little more than a tautology and one which most volitionists (including myself) would not dispute. Ghs

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