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Stephen,

Although I am sure Rand never fully developed her philosophy on death until AS as you say, the poignant final quote from WTL reinforces my belief that this was her best novel, indeed her only real novel by my conventional standards. In it the artist expresses not only her soul but says goodbye forever to her own youth and all that it might have been. If she had written it in Russian, it might have been even finer.

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Ellen Stuttle wrote:

What good does it do a person to visit his or her grave? The person isn't there.

end quote

How odd. I think like Ellen but I still put flowers on graves at different holidays, and I have even fixed drooping tombstones, raised a slab and I like the solar lights people put on graves. At night the lights aren’t spooky. They are beautiful.

I want my loved ones to be remembered just as I want to be remembered. I bought a beautiful stone and had it carved for my wife and myself. It is rare that I am at a graveyard by myself – someone is nearly always there too.

Peter Taylor

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Adam (Selene) wrote:

You will probably remember a lot more "snapshots" as you explore.

end quote

That is why I like this thread. As we get to know Cathy and as she gets to know Ayn Rand’s works she can compare the persona with her Aunt Alice.

Peter

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Peter,

This has nothing to do with nothing, but your cemetery comment reminded me of a story from Chicken Soup for the Soul. Canfield and Hansen attributed it to Bennet Cerf (who published Atlas Shrugged).

In one seat a wispy old man sat holding a bunch of fresh flowers. Across the aisle was a young girl whose eyes came back again and again to the man's flowers. The time came for the old man to get off. Impulsively he thrust the flowers into the girl's lap. "I can see you love the flowers," he explained, "and I think my wife would like for you to have them. I'll tell her I gave them to you." The girl accepted the flowers, then watched the old man get off the bus and walk through the gate of a small cemetery.

Michael

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Thanks for the story, Michael.

Daunce wrote:

Although I am sure Rand never fully developed her philosophy on death until AS as you say . . . .

end quote

I remember Ayn Rand answering a question about fearing death. She said something along the lines of, Do you dread the times before you were conceived? Of course not. So why dread the time when you are not in existence.

Here is a gem I have quoted a few times.

Peter

From: BBfromM@aol.com
Date:
Wed, 9 Aug 2000 20:17:40 -0400
Subject: Re: ATL: The Queen Speaks
To: atlantis@wetheliving.com

It is difficult for me to convey the amount of scorn and revulsion I feel for those who--like Ellen Moore, but there are others -- insist on deifying Ayn Rand. They clutch at her even as she lies in her grave, demanding that she satisfy their unmet needs, their desperate longing for a god to worship. And they do not take the trouble to understand her. She deserves so much better of them. She earned the right to be understood, to be seen as the woman she was, for good and for bad.

Ellen Moore writes such garbage as: "She was rational, objective, benevolent, humorous, stimulating, life affirming, joyous, brilliant, kind, generous to friends and fans, charismatic, serious, challenging, and light-hearted at the same time. . . " And "she lived a gloriously passionate and fulfilled life."

How dare you do her memory the disservice of distorting it, just as Peikoff reaches into her work to distort it? Yes, Ayn Rand could at rare times be many of the things you mention, but those times came to decrease over the year s, to be replaced in many respects by their opposites, as the continuing tragedies, often self-made, of her personal life mounted--her rejection by the father she loved, by the first man she loved as a girl, the lack of fulfillment in so much of her life with her husband, the catastrophe of her relationship with Nathaniel, her failed reunion with her sister, then Frank O'Connor's increasing mental and physical ill-health, culminating in his death, her own increasing ill-health, her disappointment with the world around her. "A gloriously passionate and fulfilled life?" How dare her idolaters ignore the pain and torment of so much of her life, how dare they speak of love and admiration while refusing to know who she was!

I do her the honor of loving and admiring the woman she really was. I do her the honor of understanding her. I do her the honor of being heartbroken over the suffering she endured.

What do you think it was like for her, Ellen Moore and others who commit the same crime against Ayn Rand, to be constantly clutched at by "admirers" like you, with your incessant demands that she meet your irrational needs, that she achieve some sort of "perfection"? Is what she was not enough for you? Was it not enough that she was a seminal genius? Must she also have led an ecstatically happy life?

But I know that her "adorers" are determined to uphold the myth they have created about Ayn Rand, never the reality. They would turn from her in horror if they faced the fact that just as her virtues were larger than life, so were her flaws.

Who really is her friend: I, who love the person she was--or those who (sic - are) doggedly refuse to accept and to honor the reality of the person she was?
Barbara

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Thanks for that true gem, Peter, I hadn't seen it before. Even before I saw the name at the bottom I thought, "nobody could have written this but Barbara |Branden."

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Thanks for that true gem, Peter, I hadn't seen it before. Even before I saw the name at the bottom I thought, "nobody could have written this but Barbara |Branden." Nobody else could have told the truth so well.

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Ellen Stuttle wrote:

What good does it do a person to visit his or her grave? The person isn't there.

end quote

How odd. I think like Ellen but I still put flowers on graves at different holidays, and I have even fixed drooping tombstones, raised a slab and I like the solar lights people put on graves. At night the lights aren’t spooky. They are beautiful.

I want my loved ones to be remembered just as I want to be remembered. I bought a beautiful stone and had it carved for my wife and myself. It is rare that I am at a graveyard by myself – someone is nearly always there too.

Peter Taylor

While I prefer ashes scattered if someone has a felt need to visit a grave go visit the grave.

I have two uncles killed as babies in 1902 or 1903 in a streetcar accident in Defiance, Ohio. I visited their graves 20 years ago in Cleveland, along with that of their aunt who was also killed (my grandmother was badly injured). Their names were Gerald and Roland. The only surviving member of that familial generation is my 95 yo uncle born in 1918. (He should have died in 1943 after being shot up by a Japanese Zero's exploding 20mm cannon shells filling his body with shapnel.) At the same grave site are buried my paternal great-grand parents. A cemetery worker pulled out 3 x 5 index cards that probably hadn't been touched in 75 years and I learned that my great grandmother had died of complications of adult onset diabetes in the late 19 teens. I had already gone to Defiance--I was also trying to re-connect with a woman in Toledo--to try to figure out how a streetcar could be hit by a train. In that I failed, but there was a track going through the town, still.

--Brant

that said, I may never go back, but I will be going back to North Carolina soon, where my Rodney is buried

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I understand both. My Eddie preferred to have his ashes scattered, which we did, but some are saved so he can be buried with me, in the Stuart family plot with my parents and grandparents. It is a plot I am used to visiting,especially with Ma as she tended the graves and mentioned matter-of-factly that there was "one space left for me." It is a comfort for me to know that our physical remains will all be together. Maybe my children will visit there. It is a beautiful, old graveyard.

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Ellen Stuttle wrote:

What good does it do a person to visit his or her grave? The person isn't there.

end quote

How odd. I think like Ellen but I still put flowers on graves at different holidays [...].

Both times Larry and I were in Vienna, we went to see the Musicians' Corner at the Zentralfriedhof (Central Cemetery). Both times I bought a rose at the flowers-and-concessions stand near the main gate. The rose was to put at Beethoven's memorial.

The first time the weather was drizzly, the sky overcast. Just as we came past bushes along the main road and could see the clearing with the circle of monuments, a ray of light broke through the cloud cover, setting aglow the gold embossing on Beethoven's plinth.

Photo:

http://www.traveldudes.org/travel-tips/central-cemetery-vienna-austria-its-famous-musicians/2538

Shortly before we got there someone had left at the base of the plinth a note written in ballpoint ink on a piece of school notebook paper.

The words were already becoming blurred by the drizzle, but I could still make them out. They were written in English:

"I cannot reach you where you are. I can only be thankful for what you have given me here."

Ellen

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Thanks for that true gem, Peter, I hadn't seen it before. Even before I saw the name at the bottom I thought, "nobody could have written this but Barbara |Branden."

The person Barbara was responding to in the old Atlantis post Peter copied in #831 was Ellen Moore.

Note that the title of the thread was "The Queen Speaks." The thread was started by Ellen Moore. The "Queen" she was referencing was Barbara. The post came from the height of the fireworks between Ellen Moore and Barbara.

Ellen Moore was an inimitable "character." Barbara once called her, in a phrase that several of us found both apt and hysterically funny, "a bargain basement Ayn Rand." Ellen Moore might also have been described as a Gracie Allen version of Ayn Rand. She said zany things which left people wondering, Where did that come from?

Ultimately Ellen Moore became such a dumping post Barbara and I became tired of the degree of hostility toward her and started defending her, to the irritation of several who thought that she deserved all the venom she got. Barbara also ultimately began to think that Ellen was right in some of the things she said about Libertarians (capital "L").

In late 2007 Barbara wrote to Ellen Moore. This was more than five years after the 2002 split between Old Atlantis and Atlantis II. (Ellen Moore stayed on Old Atlantis; most of the ATL regulars left. The reason for the parting was a decision by Jimbo Wales, who owned the server on which ATL was hosted, to institute a "civility" policy. Such a policy was that up with which most of us would not put.)

Barbara received a reply from Ellen's husband, Mel, telling her that Ellen Moore had died. I think the date of death was November 11, the USA Veterans Day.

Weirdly, Ellen died at just about the same age as had Rand, a few months past turning 77. And, although Ellen Moore never smoked, the cause of her death was a lung problem - a breakdown of the alveoli such that she in effect slowly drowned from water and phlegm.

Barbara wrote and told me the news of Ellen Moore's death, since she thought, correctly, that I too would feel saddened. Barbara and I had both come to have a respect for Ellen Moore's crusty, intrepid spirit. Ellen lived in Winnipeg, Barbara's home town, although the two women had never met. Ellen seemed to me to have a hardy pioneer tenacity which reminded me of my own Western rancher relatives on my mother's side. I once told Ellen Moore, in some private correspondence, that she did remind me of pioneer stock. I was glad that I had told her.

Ellen

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Toward the end of AtlantisI Ellen Moore remarked she had been attacked by a turkey, so George (Smith) on ATLII proposed a contest about ~why~ the turkey attacked Ellen Moore. First prize went to--I forget who--the guy who answered that she took exception to some of his Cypress Lectures. The turkey thus became (the late) Jason Alexander who I believe promulgated those lectures under the sponsorship of TJ Rogers, head of Cypress Semiconductor (once took on a nun in public). It was hysterical because it implicitly described both Ellen and Jason to a T. I think I got second place with, "Because he was next in line." Ross Barlow wrote me he couldn't stop laughing on reading that.

--Brant

yeah, I miss Ellen; she never gave an inch though not nearly as smart and knowledgeable as she though she was = her unique lecturing charm--she had that never give an inch in common with Rand, too

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http://www.traveldud...-musicians/2538

Thanks for the link, Ellen. Some of the graves such as Johann Strauss II’s are being overgrown by shrubs and some of the gravestones in the Jewish quarter were toppling over. Usually every ten years or so, some local Good Samaritan like myself, will come along and reposition leaning stones in the three graveyards where my relatives are buried. You might think a famous person would have at least one person a year who would try to fix things. I found Mozart’s grave marker odd. Was the woman at the top a “Muse?” Beethoven’s marker was the best. That deserved a “Wow!”

I too defended Ellen Moore because I thought she was mostly right but occasionally very, very wrong which I attributed to old age and allowing herself to become indoctrinated by a cause. Not that I can claim constant rationality when it comes to the seminal genius Ayn Rand. I bristle at any criticism of her even though I am sometimes the critic.

Ellen used to teach courses for NBI and then it’s successor organizations, so she had become adept and perhaps obsessive about defending, explaining and sugar coating her idol. I just could not fathom her attacks against Barbara Branden. If anyone was not a “yes-man,” or a sycophant, it was Barbara. And with hindsight I must insist that Barbara Branden was and still is, a true big “O” Objectivist. Ayn Rand DEMANDED obedience from her admirers and was just too damn quick to condemn others based on little evidence. She psychologized way too much especially as she aged. Well there I go again, analyzing someone who I idolize but never met.

Peter

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I will try to find what she taught at NBI but here is a thread that shows Ellen Moore's depth of thought. I noticed she does say she taught Peikoff''s lectures, but does not mention NBI so I may be wrong - she just took courses from NBI.

Here is a portion of a thread.

Peter

From: Ellen Moore <ellen_moore@mb.sympatico.ca>

To: Atlantis@wetheliving.com

Subject: ATL: - Objectivist Metaphysics "metaphysical" and "axiomatic".

Date: Sun, 25 Feb 2001 14:42:17 -0600

I am writing in response to Jason Alexander's posts, and for others who are interested in considering the philosophical issues about metaphysics in the system of Objectivism. Jason asked me to present my position

that "reason is not metaphysical" without being "confrontational". I will do that. It will involve more than one post.

I am appreciative of Jason's continued encouragement of my postings, and the interest and support he has given me. I'm most appreciative of the fact that he expressed interest in the topic, Is Reason Metaphysical?

I've spent many years considering the Objectivist premises of volition, concept formation, and reason. I am working within the system that Rand's premises indicate, and identifying that it all comes together as she intended the philosophical integration to be understood.

I'll begin with the meaning of Metaphysics in Objectivism. Many members may consider this introduction is well known and needlessly repetitive, but I also write for readers who are learning the premises, and for those who may have become interested in a deeper analysis of the philosophical structure.

From a general historical base in philosophy, metaphysics is the study of the nature of being, usually referred to as "Being". In Objectivism, the term for "Being" is "Existence". Rand's concept means existence is every thing that exists in the past, the present, and in the future - this includes the whole range of all existents in the eternal universe ("eternal" means "out of time" - no beginning and ongoing without ending).

Existence, Identity, Consciousness are the three primary metaphysical axioms of Objectivism. Every existent *is* its Identity. Rand said, "Existence is Identity. Consciousness is Identification". This means that every entity that exists *is* a particular identity, of a particular nature. Each thing must necessarily act according to its nature because it cannot contradict its nature. The nature of each thing's actions, attributes, and relations are governed by the law of identity and the law of causality. Consciousness possesses identity, and its nature is the ability for identification of existents.

We require certain crucial distinctions about terminology and meaning. Existence, is the primary axiom and includes matter and consciousness. Concrete physical and material things exist. Consciousness is the faculty of perceiving that which exists. Consciousness exists in some living beings. Within the study of metaphysics, human consciousness is the faculty of being aware of reality by means of our perceptions of

things. Another distinction is between the physical and the mental, i.e., between the body and the mind. The integration of body and mind pertains to interdependent and interactive functions. Both are the province of metaphysics because both pertain to the nature of a being's life. The term "metaphysical" adds a suffix ending to "metaphysics" so it becomes an adjective meaning that any thing identified as metaphysical pertains to its metaphysics, i.e., to the identity and nature of the things in existence.

This is Metaphysics. It must account for different things that exist, and must deal with the nature of things like matter that is inanimate as well as with animate matter of living things like plants, animals, and human beings. Philosophy sets the epistemological terms for validation of knowledge. Science works to describe and explain the natures and actions of things in existence. This is why Ayn Rand discussed briefly the different kinds of beings and their distinct natures in her introduction, "The Objectivist Ethics".

In essence, Objectivism is a philosophy of individualism. It sets the terms for differentiating between human individuals, and it explains why individual's actions, ideas, and values differ substantively regarding those who achieve rationality while others settle into various states of irrationality. Their minds gradually develop into patterns which become automatized.

The main responsibility of metaphysics is to acknowledge and deal with the fact that philosophy itself belongs in the domain of human life. Other species of plants and animals do not discuss metaphysics or any other branch of philosophy, epistemology, ethics, politics, or esthetics. In fact, the things that philosophy must deal with is the nature of human life and human knowledge - what is it, and how knowledge is to be validated if life is to be viable and sustained.

Metaphysics must include and deal with the nature of the human body and human consciousness - the facts of what we are. Philosophy deals with how we know what we know, and how we ought to act while living alone, or if we live among other humans. What we *are*, body and mind, is the province of metaphysics. Gaining and validating our knowledge are the issues pertaining to epistemology. How we ought to act individually in

order to live is the domain of ethics, and politics is the application of ethics to the issues of living among other humans ("in a social context").

The main point of my repeating all this here is: there is no justification whatever for thinking that metaphysics deals with reality as a whole, but that human nature is not a true subject in metaphysics because we are only one kind of entity, human beings. Human life is an integration of both *physical, metaphysical, and mental* characteristics. The task of metaphysics is to provide the guiding principles pertaining to the human body, to human consciousness, to human volition, and to mental functions - all are included. Our body is physical, our volitional consciousness is metaphysical, and our mental functions operate according to the law of identity.

~~~~~~

Rand identified this *metaphysical* premise:

"Man's particular distinction from all other living species is the fact that his consciousness is volitional." (she italicized the last word for emphasis)

I have discussed the Objectivist view of the metaphysical nature of volitional consciousness many times, so here are the main details in brief:

Only human beings possess the attribute of a volitional consciousness. Volition pertains to the operations of human consciousness, *not to its contents*.... Volition is the conscious ability of initiating and directing actions that can raise, lower, and shut down its level of awareness.

Rand's metaphor "focus" refers *only* to raising awareness from a lower to a higher level.

Rand made this clear statement of explanation about volition:

"man's consciousness possesses the power of self-initiated motion in the realm of cognition (thinking) which the consciousnesses of other living species do not possess ..., so man is able to initiate and direct his mental action only in accordance with the nature (the identity) of his consciousness. His volition is limited to his cognitive processes:..."

This confirms my view that volitional action, which is metaphysical, is limited to initiating and directing, not the automatic perceptual processes, but the mental cognitive processes. Cognition belongs to the realm of epistemology.

The actions of volitional awareness are the primary causal attribute of human consciousness, so there are no prior actions, desires, reasons or values which motivate its primary actions. All that follows from each individual's primary volitional action causes other *secondary and later* effects. Secondary choices are selected from among automatic perceptual contents and/or from volitionally formed conceptual contents

in consciousness. Concept formation is a volitional and complex task. All efforts and consequences pertaining to conceptualization is volitional.

These are the Objectivist premises:

Consciousness is an attribute of certain living beings. Consciousness is a metaphysical axiom. Volition is the attribute of actions in the identity of human consciousness only. Volition is primary causal actions within human consciousness, a metaphysical axiom. A primary attribute of a metaphysical axiom, consciousness, is necessarily metaphysical. Therefore, it is valid to add a suffix *pertaining to attributes of axioms*, and to identify that volition is *axiomatic*. The conclusion based on Objectivist premises is: Volition is *metaphysical* and *axiomatic*.

To be continued:

My writing on Volition and on Reason are copyrighted.

Next: The relation of volition and concepts, and discussing the question, "In Objectivism, is reason metaphysical, or axiomatic, or neither?"

Ellen Moore

From: Ellen Moore <ellen_moore@mb.sympatico.ca>

To: atlantis@wetheliving.com

Subject: ATL: My attitude to Ayn Rand

Date: Sun, 12 Aug 2001 16:03:28 -0500

To Ellen Stuttle and Phyllis,

My response to Rand is more like that of Phyllis than of Ellen. [Phyllis, I'm 74] I think Ellen S. must feel about Jung much the way I feel about Rand. I was always encouraged as a child to think for myself, and I grew up an individualist interested in ideas, especially in morality. For that reason, I always went my own way as an independent and happy member of a group of friends. I gave up religious beliefs by the time I was a teenager, but I did not know enough to be an atheist.

At university my main interests were philosophy and psychology, and I learned that I preferred Aristotle to any other philosopher. I read Fountainhead in my late twenties and was impressed with the ideas of the author. I was a mature 37 years old, happy mother of two, fully formed in my ideas [i thought] when I discovered Ayn Rand's full philosophy. I said, She is talking to me; these ideas fit me to a T. I took NBI audio

lectures for 3 years and for the next years I've studied Objectivism -- I went back to U in '69 to take my masters in Philosophy and to challenge Objectivist ideas -- and I quit just one year short of my degree when I found the required program so profoundly irrational. I presented the Peikoff lectures in my area and hosted a study group until we moved to our farm full time in '99.

As I said I have a passion for Ayn Rand and Objectivism not because it revolutionized my life or my psyche. It was that it presented my values all rolled up in an integrated systematic package. Of course, I learned many new premises identified in Rand's works. I learned to understand and validate why I was an atheist. In other words, I felt an immediate kinship and recognition, and an optimism about how good my life is and

would become more so the more I learned and applied what I knew. That has come true.

One last note: I never before in my life have met or dealt with the viciousness of the critical opposition I find here among a few libertarians who do not understand me nor agree with premises of Objectivism. Fortunately, by this time in my life I have the knowledge, self-esteem, and self-confidence to fight for my ideas and my values. I learned much from Rand. She's my hero - with a passion.

Ellen Moore

From: Ellen Moore <ellen_moore@mb.sympatico.ca>

To: Atlantis@wetheliving.com

Subject: ATL: Re: Sandra, "the half-assed evolutionary Objectivist"

Date: Mon, 15 Oct 2001 23:17:17 -0500

I have a few comments to offer in response to your post of Sat., 19:32.

You offer labels; "half-assed Objectivists" - "post-Objectivist" - "Reform Objectivist" -- as opposed to "Orthodox Objectivist" – and last at last you labeled yourself "the half-assed evolutionary Objectivist".

I've also heard of those who call themselves "neo-Objectivist". All of these labels indicate that the person disagrees with fundamental premises of Objectivism, or they disagree with some personal views or tastes that Ayn Rand had expressed. All of these labels identify that someone's purpose is to change Objectivism from the philosophical principles that Ayn Rand identified as Objectivism into something different than was identified by its only authentic author – something that will suit them personally better than Rand's ideas would or could..

Why does anyone want to do so? And why does anyone of them think that they will be able to change what Objectivism actually is? -- after all this philosophy is the specific set of consistently integrated principles based on reason as identified by Ayn Rand.

I think you and others should be able to understand that anyone else's intellectual or personal product that contradicts her set of principles at once removes itself from any credit for being labeled as "Objectivism" or "Objectivist".

You think this control is in "Leonard Peikoff's hot little hands"? No, it is not! There is no "official" control, and no "orthodox" control, that enables anyone to contradict or change the integrated structure that Objectivism is. Not Peikoff, not Branden, not Kelley, not Mendoza -- and their favorite practice of labeling their disagreements as a "blah-blah-Objectivist" certainly means that they are not in control, nor have any of these groups of hangers-on earned the right to declare they are authentic "Objectivists". They are simply abusing the concept they have not earned but have stolen from Rand.

Sad to say, what is mostly evident so far from institutes and students alike, with a few dedicated exceptions, is their lack of knowledge, their lack of understanding, lack of applications, their disagreements, and their distorted interpretations of Rand's works.

The context of human knowledge is wide open to further identifications and discoveries. It is wisdom to understand that Objectivist principles are as applicable in the future as they were in Rand's time, or as they are today. Could any great thinker identify a new principle? Yes, Rand did it and it may be done in the future. But it will never be accomplished unless a consistently rational thinker first understands and applies the basic fundamental structure of Objectivism. One cannot add onto that which one never understood.

Currently, we have far too many ignorant, contradictory, busybodies who think they can mess up a work of philosophical genius. I for one would be deeply grateful for just one mind who was able to add one clearly rational, innovative idea and apply it without contradiction to the foundation of the work that Rand left us. I view this as my own "cry in the wilderness", and my hope for the future of us all.

People like you, Sandra, are free to disagree with Objectivism and with Ayn Rand anytime, anywhere. Just keep in mind that you are judged accordingly. No, I am not an "Orthodox Fundamentalist little Objectivist." I am Ellen Moore, rational individualist dedicated to living according to Objectivist principles. I know Objectivism as well as anyone I've heard of, and I've done a damn fine job of applying it to achieve my happiness in life.

Sandra, you offer some statements based on your ignorance of facts. You know nothing about me, so the one thing you cannot substantiate is the implication that I am in any way a second-hander. You make the claim that your ideas are "MINE", and I certainly agree with you since I've already read and evaluated those you've expressed here. On the same basis, you may be certain that my ideas are ~mine~ and mine are "first-handed" all the way down.

Credentials? No, you do not have to prove them to me alone. Just keep in mind that every word you write ~is~ being judged by members here and elsewhere.

Here's one tip-off for you -- It's not wise to insult members here until after you know and understand what they are offering on Atlantis. Even Kirez advised you to listen, learn and think before you speak. I think you have insulted Bill Dwyer with your ignorance of his intellectual, logical, argumentative acumen. Bill is always a gentleman, and he is one of the most thorough practitioners of logical argument we have here,

and beyond that he has the most consistent and persistent talent in presenting his case -- [even when others think he is mistaken :-)]. You could begin by treating his posts with the respect his ideas deserve rather than insulting his knowledge of the world which you know not of. It's also very likely that you failed to understand the context and content of what others are writing (e.g., Jason Alexander), and that it is your responsibility to have the patience to consider and grasp their ideas. Just a thoughtful reminder that you should apply to more than one member here.

Ellen Moore

From: Ellen Moore <ellen_moore@mb.sympatico.ca>

To: Atlantis@wetheliving.com

Subject: ATL: Re: To learn Objectivism...

Date: Thu, 18 Oct 2001 14:42:29 -0500

Mona and Kathleen,

Again Kathleen is right. There is only one sure source to learn what Objectivism is - that is from Ayn Rand's written works and written (or taped) transcripts of her lectures and seminars. Also, the original lectures on Objectivism ~authorized for content~ by Ayn Rand at the time, delivered by Nathaniel Branden and by Leonard Peikoff. The advantage of these lectures was that they set out the integrated system of the philosophy - from the foundation set by Metaphysics, through Epistemology to Ethics, which is the basic framework for Politics, and then Aesthetics. {Jason Alexander refers to this structure as "MEEPA". Beyond this systematic integration are the applications based on the principles. Since all knowledge is based on reason within individual contexts, that leaves ample room for individual rational options.

All else you read and hear is someone else's interpretations, and those are necessarily to be judged critically ~after~ one knows in one's own judgment what Objectivism actually is according to Rand's identifications.

Mona,

I want to stress to you that Objectivism, by its very content, integration and structure, is not and cannot ever be a cult of any kind. The possibility that you think some people are acting like cultists should be judged by you as their Not being Objectivists. If you know that anyone is taking Rand's ideas or applications on the basis

of faith, then you know they cannot be Objectivists because that contradicts this philosophy. Frankly, I have met very few students who do accept Objectivism on faith - they may lack knowledge, or they may be making errors, but otherwise if they do operate on faith I suggest you avoid them because there is no such position within the framework of Objectivism.

Kathleen,

You have said that you were "raised on Objectivism", and have implied that later you had to get back in touch with your emotional life [i'm paraphrasing so I hope I correctly understood what you meant].

There are no dichotomies within Objectivism - especially there is no conflict, and should not be in one's life, between one's reason and one's emotion. If this serious error was a part of your upbringing, then you can rest assured that your parental views were based on a serious misunderstanding of Objectivist principles.

It's important to understand that a person in applying principles is not the same process as obeying rules of behavior dictated by others. Let me give an example from my own actions as a parent. We had no rules in our home that our children had to follow. We were not authoritarian. Neither did we implement the idea that our children had to accept any idea or opinion presented to them unless they could understand and accept it based on their own judgment of the facts. [This is an application of the "onus of proof principle" - it means that, he who asserts the positive is responsible for proving it is true – and negatives cannot be proven because there is no evidence available for something that does not exist.] I said to our son and daughter when any question arose, "You do not have to believe what anyone tells you unless you are sure it makes sense to you - and that applies to everyone, even Mom and Dad."

Needless to say, they made all their own decisions and they both grew up to be very independent and responsible adults. Being individualists, we did voice our own likes and dislikes, but the child's choices were left up to the child. There were only two kinds of circumstances where we as parents took a strong stand, one was in regard to the safety of their lives, and the other was stating clearly that we expected honesty, and

we said that they could openly tell us anything, because we did not approve of lying at any time. This policy worked well for us as a family.

Ellen M.

From: Ellen Moore <ellen_moore@mb.sympatico.ca>

To: Atlantis@wetheliving.com

Subject: ATL: Re: blah blah Whatever

Date: Fri, 19 Oct 2001 12:43:00 -0500

Sandra wrote,

"I don't have to agree with EVERYTHING a thinker, author, or artist says in order to enjoy them, otherwise, I would have very few thinkers, artists and authors to enjoy -- which seems somewhat the position Objectivists ended up in." This last opinion is wrong!

That is certainly a false statement about Objectivists. There is absolutely no reason why Objectivists cannot enjoy aspects of the talent or style of other thinkers, authors and artists who are ~not~ advocates of Objectivism. This is just one more clear instance of the total lack of dogmatism that is in the Objectivist philosophy. Objectivists do enjoy talent and intelligent work wherever it exists, and to whatever extent it exists.

For instance, my two stories about my brother Bill were true and admirable. That does not mean that he was the soul of rationality in all other aspects of his life. On the other hand, my Mother was a predominately rational woman, and she strongly influenced my early intellectual and character development -- for instance, some religious music is admirable and very enjoyable to me -- Another example, although Oprah is deeply religious, she is also rational in many practical ways -- she has been a great influence for practical reasoning in television entertainment in the field of books, education, and for the psychological independence and power of women and men. No matter where one looks, enjoyment of artistic talent is a very personal, sense of life, experience.

Dennis May wrote about the use of appropriate labels,

"I guess my politics are Libertarian and my philosophy Objectivist. ... I am a Hard Determinist, end of story. ... If I agree with much of it [Objectivism] but disagree strongly with other portions I am not a big "O" Objectivist but what other label does Ellen wish me to use. ... The many hyphenated Objectivists have the same problem. Is this a real problem or just the way language works?"

There is no real problem here at all about the issue of naming what one's philosophical views really are. It is not a problem of language at all, it's a question of philosophical knowledge, honesty, and integrity.

Dennis has told us in the past that he agreed with the axioms of Objectivism. That simply is not true because he contradicts this claim when he says he is "a Hard Determinist, end of story". Holding contradictions with a fixation really cannot be consistent with Objectivist principles. The fact is he cannot honestly label himself an Objectivist. He probably is a political Libertarian of some faction or other. e.g., Debbie Clark is a self-declared Christian Libertarian Anarchist - But Objectivist? No! It's all a matter of one's knowing the principles and applying them validly.

If one is guided by faith and mysticism, that excludes every aspect of Objectivism. If one is a Hard or Soft Determinist that commitment excludes the principles of Objectivism. Bill Dwyer is a Self-declared

Soft Determinist and he uses the philosophical label, "Compatibilism".

Why are these, among many others, sure signals that one is not an Objectivist?

1. Objectivism is founded on fundamental principles of reason and reality - so faith and mysticism is epistemologically invalid.

2. Objectivism is founded on the fundamental principle that "Man is a Being of Volitional Consciousness", so all versions of epistemological and psychological Determinism are metaphysically and epistemologically

invalid.

3. If one is ~not~ an advocate of Limited Constitutional Government and Laissez-faire Capitalism, then one is politically in disagreement with Objectivism.

And the list goes on...

Not being an Objectivist does not imply that one is irrational at all other times - one may indeed hold mixed premises that causes continuous conflicts. Yet one may have what I like to call "flashes of reason" on specific issues. If one does not rate as a consistent Objectivist, one may still be ~at times~ correct about an issue, may be of good character and pleasant personality. But conflicts of this kind indicate a non-integrated thinker But if one is a self-declared Racist, one is not a rational individualist, one is an irrational collectivist, and that certainly means one is NOT an Objectivist. These are not "rules", these are a few indications of ~Principles~ of Objectivism!

"What [Dennis asks] other label does Ellen wish me to use? My answer is, "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn" -- But do not claim that your philosophy is Objectivism and a Determinist at the same time and the same respect - that is a direct contradiction. Holding such a fundamental fixated contradiction means that your own metaphysics, epistemology, ethics and politics must be flawed in important methods and contents. You can choose any other label that really applies to your set of ideas, but NOT "Objectivist". Or, you can just explain to any listener, in language he can understand, that you agree with X named principle [or application] of Objectivism. Or you can explain why you like some aspects of Rand's novels, but not others. It's just that easy!

Now take a person like Mona who is currently assessing the context and contents of Objectivism to see whether this philosophy may suit her. Well, years ago what we used to call ourselves was to say, "A Student of Objectivism" Or a student could add, "So far I agree with X... principles and X application." All that takes is learning all the principles, and then with an honest self-evaluation be able to make rational judgments to decide if one actually ~IS~ an Objectivist or not.

Anyone who wants to adopt this principled philosophy, "to make it your own", is always welcomed generously by those dedicated to the principles that are truly of Objectivism.

Ellen M.

From: Ellen Moore <ellen_moore@mb.sympatico.ca>

To: Atlantis@wetheliving.com

Subject: ATL: The Objectivist Theory of Volition - Ellen S.

Date: Sun, 28 Oct 2001 15:41:07 -0600

Ellen Stuttle asks,

What does "volitional consciousness" mean, and how is Rand's statement, "Man is a being of volitional consciousness" to be interpreted?

Rand maintained that having a volitional consciousness differentiates man from all other species. It means that the attribute of volition makes humans different from all other species. Other species do not possess volition. So what is volition?

Volition is the *metaphysical* attribute of action in the identity of human consciousness. Volition allows a human to initiate and direct the actions [the motions] of one's consciousness, of awareness, and of one's mental cognition. What are these volitional actions? They are actions of initiating, directing controlling and sustaining one's awareness of aspects of existents [of things] in reality.

When Rand speaks of consciousness as an axiom, it means that it is an attribute at some specific level of action in all living [animate] entities. Inanimate matter is not live and is not conscious. There are levels in consciousness; some live entities have only sensations and act upon them; others act on the level of perceptions. Human action has at least three levels - our actions are based on sensation, perception and

conception. Sensation and perception are automatic and physical. Conception is volitional, abstract, and mental - and is based on whether we initiate, and how we use and direct our perceptions. We are not aware of sensations, so the base of human knowledge of reality is our automatic physical perceptions of things. Beyond that, cognition is volitionally acquired

Sensation and perception is physical, biological, and these function automatically by means of the system of organs in the physical body; senses, nervous system and brain. Humans have no choice about the fact that our consciousness is aware of perception of existents around us, we normally, automatically, feel, see, hear, taste, and smell things.

Volitional consciousness acts in many ways distinctive to humans that other species cannot. One can omit measurements, detect similarities, abstract units, and form a mental integration we call a concept, or we may not. This means that valid conceptualization, i.e., that is true of reality, is not an automatic process because human consciousness is fallible. One can make mistakes. One can form concepts volitionally, or not; One can think conceptually long range, or not; One can learn to introspect, or not; One can identify general principles, or not; One can grasp moral principles, or not; One can act on one's knowledge, or not; One can subvert, evade, and corrupt one's knowledge, or not One can subvert, evade, and corrupt one's psychology - for better or for worse.

[Evasion is the human ability to act to shut off one's awareness of specific things or facts one refuses to acknowledge.]

One can deny that Man is volitional, but one thing we humans cannot do is avoid the fact that we are volitionally conscious, and we do not necessarily have to act on the basis of our automatic physical perceptions of reality. Perception is valid, yet we can act against our perception of reality, we can deny the truth, and we can destroy ourselves. Life or death is our only option as living entities with a volitional consciousness Why? Because the metaphysical identity of Man is such that each individual consciousness *is* volitional. All one is free to do is to initiate, direct, control and sustain one's conscious awareness of reality, OR one is free to evade the responsibility of being conscious. This is the way that Rand's statement about Man is to be interpreted. At least, it is my interpretation.

I am one who is convinced that it is a volitional consciousness that allows all human beings to be what they are, and act as they do. We create who and what we are, how and why we think and feel, and why we each live as we do.

Ellen M.

From: Ellen Moore <ellen_moore@mb.sympatico.ca>

To: Atlantis@wetheliving.com

Subject: ATL: Back when Atlantis was down - Moore vs Rand on Volition

Date: Thu, 17 Jan 2002 20:23:42 -0600

Jeff Olson wrote an Offlist post on Dec. 20, entitled "Paradoxes of Volition and Determinism (Part 1: Moore vs. Rand, and motives behind "chosen reason".) He sent it to 12 persons. Then he sent a different second post with the same title to Nathaniel Branden and the others [13 in all]

When Atlantis was restored some of those posts, in part or whole, were re-posted to ATL. Yet Jeff's originals have not been repeated or discussed. Those first posts from Jeff were interesting, and they must have furthered another "go" at the volition versus determinism debate - so far totally unresolved. But I am going to deal with the specific issues therein that relate to my views on volition that I have presented onlist.

Jeff's title would give the impression that my views oppose Rand's views, but that is not relevant to the argument he presents. Jeff was actually presenting the idea that Rand's views and mine follow the same theme, and that I travel further in her footsteps in saying that volition is the attribute of consciousness that primarily initiates and directs the further development of a human being's life, cognition and character. This is true, but that view IS Rand's position. In fact, it is interesting that Jeff acknowledges my position on Rand's so well, and yet he chooses to follow the determinist's contradictory bent to have volition [which he calls 'will'] and be determined too.

Now here is what Jeff maintains -- "Ellen Moore makes such a peculiar hash of the role of volition in human

action, but I'm not sure that the same insight entirely spare's Rand's views as well."

"First, to Rand's advantage, she apparently realized that demoting reason to the handmaiden of volition reduces volition to an empty concept -- since in the absence of conceptual development and its attendant reasoning ability, volition has nothing to do *except to perform as an automatic, unconsciously directed process.* "

Nothing could be farther from the truth about Rand's views or mine.

Rand's view is that the attribute of Consciousness is a metaphysical axiom. And Volition is an attribute of human consciousness only. Rand wrote that, Volition, "*by its metaphysically given nature*" ... "does not contradict the fact of identity" ... man's consciousness possesses the power of self-initiated motion in the realm of cognition (thinking) which the consciousnesses of other living species do not possess. ... so man is able to initiate and direct his mental actions only in accordance with the nature (the identity) of his consciousness. His volition is limited to his cognitive processes. ... He has the power to suspend, evade, corrupt, or subvert his perception of reality, but not the power to escape the existential and psychological disasters that follow. (The use or misuse of his cognitive faculty determines a man's choice of values, which determine his emotions and his character. It is in this sense that man is a being of self-made soul.) "

There is no aspect of Rand's view above that I do not apply consistently in my own views. But Jeff appears to think, as per his statement above, that prior to concept formation consciousness is empty of content and that - "volition has nothing to do *except to perform as an automatic, unconsciously directed process.* "

What does Jeff think is the base of cognition? Rand maintained that *perception* is the base of cognition - "epistemologically, the base of all man's knowledge is the *perceptual* stage." "It is in the form of percepts that man grasps the evidence of his senses and apprehends reality." [iTOE]

There are two primary functions of consciousness are: its *contents*, perceptual awareness - and its *actions*; volitional actions of awareness. Implicitly - "to perceive a thing is to perceive that it exists." To initiate a volitional action of awareness (to a higher or lower level) IS to initiate conscious action about the content of one's perceptual context. Perceptual awareness is physically given automatically - so to initiate volitional action regarding one's percepts IS the primary action of a self-aware human being's consciousness. This begins at the beginning, and it continues the process of conscious awareness that forms the foundation for all later thinking, cognitive, conceptual, and character development.

So, Jeff is wrong, volition is not empty of content prior to concept formation. Has Jeff forgotten that consciousness has different levels and degrees of scope and intensity? Re: content, the levels are sensation, perception, conception. Re: volitional actions, the levels of action are degrees of awareness up to highest levels and down from the highest levels of scope and intensity - ranging from keenest mental actions down to the action of evasion [which is the shutting down of awareness of specific things one knows]. Volition is the power that initiates and directs any and all cognitive processes beginning with the thinking and formation of the first concepts.

Jeff writes,

"In fact, in the absence of reason, 'volition' is irrelevant." Jeff is wrong - he's reversing cause and effect. In fact, in the absence of volitional consciousness, there would be no *reason*. The axiom of human consciousness means that its volitional actions are a *causal primary* for beginning *conceptual* cognition. Volition is required to proceed from perception to abstract conception, to select ideas, make evaluations, and choose values that effect character development.

This IS Rand's point when she wrote that "Reason is not axiomatic, but a complex derivative concept." i.e., Reason is NOT a metaphysical primary - reason is based on volition, abstraction, concept formation, logical

conceptualization. [Read her description in VOS, p.20.]

The determinists have, to my knowledge, never acknowledged, or dealt with, the actual meaning of her statement. *Reason is not AXIOMATIC...*. This means that Reason is not a metaphysical primary

that exists prior to volition in consciousness. The epistemological error that Reason is a fundamental primary of man's nature necessarily means that concepts are innate at birth. That is an absurd idea, and Rand rejected it as nonsense. What is true is that every step of thinking and concept formation, right or wrong, is initiated by

volitional actions.

The main question to ask: Is one's volitional thinking rational or irrational? Are one's ideas based on valid conceptual reasoning OR based on irrationality - the refusal to reason? Posing Reason as a primary fundamental leads to a contradiction because the faculty of Reason cannot logically produce both rationality and irrationality. Reason produces knowledge, NOT errors. Rand claimed that one learns to accept Reason as an absolute in cognitive issues, meaning that the context of reason is epistemological.

The fact is that Reason is an acquired [learned] abstract ability. The determinists are left holding their bag of epistemological errors and rationalizations. They actually pose that reason is a metaphysical primary of man's nature - which must, to them, mean that Reason necessarily offers contradictions causing both rationality and irrationality. Holding reason as an axiomatic primary also leads to the contradiction that evasion is impossible - that "choices cannot be otherwise". That idea of determinists is a contradiction - "a choice that cannot be otherwise" IS NOT A CHOICE! Any choice between two or more alternatives is impossible if ONLY ONE determined "choice" is possible. The determinist position is so riddled with holes and contradictions it is "preposterous" as George said. I am far more direct - it's irrational!

As Gayle Dean explained to Victor Levis,

"But, maybe it is best to address these things in bits and pieces since it is all so against our intuitions. It takes time to absorb such counter-intuitive ideas and make changes in one's overall conception of it."

Well, the truth about knowledge is not "intuitive", knowledge is reality-reasoning. When one tries to fill one's mind chock full of ambiguous language meanings, contradictions, and rationalizations, a determinist just ends up like Hume who admitted that he could not impose or follow his own ideas in his daily-life. Psychological Determinists wish to possess volition -- they use it continuously while claiming they

cannot choose otherwise -- it's the tests of Reason that they fail.

Back to Jeff's post: He ascribes to me this position:

"Ellen Moore's version of volition spawns absurdities like stagnant swamps spawn mosquitoes (e.g., a newborn infant has volition, whereas a fetus, .00000045 second before birth, has none) and yet I believe that

Ellen has faithfully followed in Ayn Rand's footsteps -- at least in terms of following Ayn Rand's intent -- but has simply trudged further down the "volitional" path than Rand, in her good sense, would permit herself. but this isn't to say that logical consistency might not require that Ayn Rand and Ellen end up in the same place."

Jeff goes on, and I must quote the rest:

"To understand what I mean, it must be appreciated that the essential point at issue is human self-responsibility. Ellen's intent (and herein lies my presumed "insight") is to attribute maximum self-responsibility to human consciousness, she attempts this by making reason something that we must "choose" to have. Not "choose to exercise" -- which is far too mild to suit Ellen's Olympian aims -- but "choose to have":

[Jeff quotes me although he does not indicate.]

"Consciousness does not guarantee that reason is in the identity of man -- reason is a volitional option for each individual to process because one has a volitional consciousness. Reason is a volitional faculty that is acquired by the initiation, direction and control of the individual." And Jeff adds:

"By granting volition such an august status, pre-eminent over reason, Ellen hopes to place human beings in the driver's seat from the get-go. Not only are we responsible for the quality of our reasoning, which might arguably be a product of prior factors [what product of what prior factors he does not say], but we are responsible for our ability to reason itself! Volition, as so formulated, displaces the "prior factors", and makes our will synonymous with them. And Ellen reaches her Holy Grail of ultimate self-responsibility: We decide (somehow) everything about ourselves, including whether or not we can reason. We become the gods of our own destiny."

Jeff, of course, fails to point out that any view of cognition I offer is based on CONTEXT, a principle of Objectivism. I acknowledge the differences pertaining to individual contexts, i.e., "prior factors", and the individual's effort which is volitional. The one idea I do object to is the hard determinist idea that intelligence is genetic. Rand repudiated what she called "the myth of innate endowment", and I certainly agree with her premise that intelligence and "talent" is acquired contextually by the effort of a specific individual's

character.

Jeff concludes,

"In part two, I will further contrast Ellen Moore's conception of volition/consciousness with Ayn Rand's, and argue that there are no practical differences between the two. I will also examine the implications of "volitionism", and suggest that its primary raison d'etre is moral culpability."

I object to Jeff's distortion of my position on two issues, 1. that I place volition "pre-eminent over reason" -- that's not true; I place volitional consciousness as the primary metaphysical attribute *under* reason, making reason possible. And 2. on infant volition vs that of a fetus. I wrote about it only recently. My view is *whenever a human consciousness is actively functional, it's actions are volitional*.

In fact, I do not go any farther than Rand as far as acquiring perceptual and conceptual knowledge is concerned. In the Comprachicos, Rand expressed the position that perceptions are acquired also. Since perceptions automatically form the base of knowledge, it is safe to consider that Rand knew that all concepts, and reason itself, which is NOT axiomatic, IS acquired volitionally - and *only* then Reason MAY BE

EXERCISED volitionally, or not.

Why is this obviously what Rand knew?

Because Rand said that *Reason is not AXIOMATIC* -- therefore, REASON IS ACQUIRED. Reason is not INHERENT in human consciousness at birth -- not in the brain at birth.

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Thanks for the link, Ellen. Some of the graves such as Johann Strauss IIs are being overgrown by shrubs and some of the gravestones in the Jewish quarter were toppling over. Usually every ten years or so, some local Good Samaritan like myself, will come along and reposition leaning stones in the three graveyards where my relatives are buried. You might think a famous person would have at least one person a year who would try to fix things.

Are you saying that there are three graveyards in the Zentralfriedhof where relatives of yours are buried?

I found Mozarts grave marker odd. Was the woman at the top a Muse? Beethovens marker was the best. That deserved a Wow!

I assume the woman is a Muse. Beethoven's is positioned so it's central in the semi-circle facing the path across the opening, and it has a larger protective area and fence around it. Many of the markers don't have little fences. I forget if Mozart's has one.

I thought that the two markers, and also Schubert's, to the left of Mozart's (which is on the right side of the curved area), were perfect for the respective musical characters of the three.

Both times Larry and I were there, we specifically looked to see and to photograph the marker which is behind Beethoven's and facing a small path. Both times I've forgotten whose it is.

Ellen

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Ellen Stuttle wrote:

Are you saying that there are three graveyards in the Zentralfriedhof where relatives if yours are buried?

end quote

No. Sorry Ellen, I was being unclear by putting my thoughts into one paragraph. The graveyards I was referring to are all on the Eastern Shore of Delaware, Maryland and Virginia, hence the local’s name of Delmarva.

The closest graves to Beethoven and Motzart containing my lineage of DNA would be near Stockholm, England, Spain and Scotland.

Peter

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Yikes, Peter, do you have to be such a friggin' space hog with all the old stuff from Atlantis? I wish you would delete post #841 and start a separate thread to dump it on if you want to post it. Having to scroll down past it is ridiculous.

Re Ellen Moore's teaching an NBI course, she didn't, and I think she was only in New York City once during NBI years, maybe only that once ever. She had some conversations with Allan and Joan Blumenthal in which she set them straight about art during that visit. (Hahaha!) I think she also went to the Ford Hall Forum during that trip.

Maybe what you're remembering and confusing with giving courses is that Ellen Moore was the Winnipeg NBI business representative for a number of years. I don't know if she was the rep the whole time courses were offered in Winnipeg.

Ellen

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Who needs the NSA when we have Peter!

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Michael, Ellen is referencing a famous exchange between orators, or writers, whom I forget except for a suspicion that one was Churchill. Someone was complaining about the style and grammar of another,charging him with the crime of ending sentences with prepositions. The alleged perp replied that the attack was "an outrage, up with which I shall not put."

Carol

sans Wiki

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Such a policy was that up with which most of us would not put.

Ellen,

I had to read that about 4 times to make it come out right in my brain.

:smile:

Michael

Call 911 or go to the emergency room immediately.

--Brant

you may yet save your brain--what's left of it

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Michael, Ellen is referencing a famous exchange between orators, or writers, whom I forget except for a suspicion that one was Churchill. Someone was complaining about the style and grammar of another,charging him with the crime of ending sentences with prepositions. The alleged perp replied that the attack was "an outrage, up with which I shall not put."

Carol

sans Wiki

http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/001702.html

Ellen, with Wiki

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