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48 minutes ago, anthony said:

The child should learn to be skeptical, indeed.

I'd hoped I had made clear the distinction between skepticism (philosophy) and being skeptical of what you hear, etc. (the working methodology). I don't think there is any connection. Having your doubts about some received information has implicit the seeking of truth and certainty as your ultimate goal. AGW skepticism, for instance. Totally unlike the philosophy which claims (in the final analysis) those aren't possible, our senses fool us, or we can't know reality for sure, reason is limited, or the truth is relative, and there are no absolutes.

"Primacy": - Pre-eminence, supremacy, above all, absolute superiority ... (and so on).

In a metaphysical and epistemological role reversal, Bob claims that science has "primacy" (over and above its evident, critical significance to mankind) and dominates consciousness (if such exists). I guess "a brain" could think so.

I prefer the word "critical"  or the phrase "critical thinking"  to cover that second use of the term "skeptical"    The greek root  is skeptos   which means looking around or looking carefully.  But the technical meaning of skeptical  has come to be  denying the possibility of knowing.   Of course the complete skeptic contradicts himself when he says "I know that I know nothing..."  

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1 hour ago, BaalChatzaf said:

I prefer the word "critical"  or the phrase "critical thinking"  to cover that second use of the term "skeptical"    The greek root  is skeptos   which means looking around or looking carefully.  But the technical meaning of skeptical  has come to be  denying the possibility of knowing.   Of course the complete skeptic contradicts himself when he says "I know that I know nothing..."  

Much better, critical thinking. Mine was a clumsy rendition. Being skeptical about some possible facts or knowledge which one hasn't established yet, is being "critical". Or maybe alternatively, critical appraisal.

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Thank you for your forbearance, Tony. I know the philosophical distinction between being skeptical and being a skeptic. I notice Ghs puts my contribution in all caps. I think he was already pissed with me in 2000. Odd. I cobbled together three letters and the first is from 2000 and the second two from 2003. Are they connected?

Pete

 

From: "George H. Smith" To: <atlantis subject: ATL: Re: "Why Atheism?" (1-4) Date: Mon, 11 Dec 2000 18:50:30 -0600/ In several posts Peter Taylor quoted from "Why Atheism" and then followed up with comments or questions. I have extracted those remarks that seemed to call for a response and briefly commented on them.

 

Peter quotes Etienne Gilson as follows (in part): "n each instance of philosophical thinking, both the philosopher and his particular doctrine are ruled from above by an impersonal necessity. In the first place, philosophers are free to lay down their own sets of principles, but once this is done, they no longer think as they wish - they think as they can. In the second place it seems to result from the facts under discussion, that any attempt on the part of a philosopher to shun the consequences of his own position is doomed to failure. What he himself declines to say will be said by his disciples, if he has any; if he has none, it may remain eternally unsaid, but it is there, and anybody going back to the same principles, be it several centuries later, will have to face the same conclusions."

 

And Peter asks: "DOES THIS DESCRIBE PEIKOFF, YOURSELF AND OTHER INTERPRETERS OF THE THOUGHTS OF AYN RAND?"

 

Yes, of course. I quoted Gilson in WA? in the course of developing a point about the inner logic of ideas, and how seemingly innocuous ideas have sometimes carried within themselves implications with radical potential. This is why philosophy and science have often taken unexpected turns, as the interpreters and expositors of a theory pursue implications that were not apparent to its originator and who, if he had been aware, may have disagreed or disapproved of them. In other words, ideas, like actions, have unintended and unforeseen consequences.

 

In "Why Atheism?" I wrote (in part): "Philosophy is the quest for wisdom; it is a sustained and systematic effort to understand ourselves and the world in which we live. Many people claim that the pursuit of such knowledge has enriched their lives, and there is no reason to doubt such claims. Contrary to its critics therefore, philosophy does tend to progress, but it does so at the personal level. Measured by this standard, philosophy has succeeded may thousands of times and will continue to do so in the future . . "

 

And Peter asks: WHAT OF THE OBJECTIVIST POSITION THAT PHILOSOPHIES BECOME 'MOVEMENTS AND THESE MOVEMENTS INFLUENCE THE FOLLOWING PHILOSOPHIES THAT THEN BECOME MOVEMENTS -  AS IN THE PEIKOVIAN PROGRESSION FROM KANT TO HEGEL TO MARX?

 

This is actually a very common view, not a strictly Objectivist one. In any case, my remarks in no way deny the existence or importance of philosophical movements. I was addressing the common criticism that philosophy does not progress, since we are still debating the same issues that were debated 2500 years ago by the Greeks. My point was that philosophy, by its very nature, is virtually useless for an individual unless he considers and attempts to resolve the perennial problems for himself. Philosophy, unlike the special sciences, is not a cumulative discipline in this sense.

 

In WA? I wrote (in part): "Thus, if Bacon's stress on the inherent fallibility of reason does not land him in skepticism, this is because he rejects infallibility as a criterion of certainty. Certainty is something we achieve through a sustained mental effort, a laborious and systematic process of trial and error, not something that is revealed to us in a flash of infallible insight."

 

And Peter replied:  WHAT? NO "EUREKA" OR PERHAPS, AS LOUIS PASTEUR SAID, "CHANCE FAVORS THE PREPARED MIND?"

 

I don't know if Bacon ever addressed the issue of spontaneous creative insights, but many of his admirers did. (The nature of "genius" was a popular subject throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.) Bacon would doubtless have distinguished between the psychological origin of an insight and its verification.  Insights often occur after a considerable period of subconscious gestation, after which they may appear to the conscious mind in a kind of Eureka experience. But such insights sometimes turn out to have no value at all, or only a very limited one, so they must be subjected to rigorous methods of proof. As Karl Popper repeatedly emphasized, we should always keep in mind the crucial difference between the process of discovery (how knowledge is originally acquired) and the logic of justification (the reasons for accepting that knowledge).

 

In WA? I wrote: "To say that a proposition is credible is not to say that it is justified but that it is worthy of being justified. A credible proposition is one that we regard as worthy of further consideration. Without credibility a proposition will simply pass through our consciousness without stopping long enough to be examined."

 

And Peter replied: "AGAIN, I AM REMINDED OF ANARCHISM. I LIKEN THE ANARCHIC SPIRIT TO THAT OF PEOPLE LIVING ON THE LAWLESS AMERICAN FRONTIER FROM 1600 TO 1900. THE OUTLAWS, NOT THE SETTLERS  :o)"

 

I don't quite see the connection here, but it is interesting to note that many anarchists credit Ayn Rand for leading them to their position. They see anarchism as resulting from the "inner logic" of Rand's own theories, even though she expressly repudiated it. This is an example of the "impersonal necessity" of ideas to which Gilson referred. (Of course, this doesn't necessarily mean that their inferences are correct; that is another matter altogether.)

Ghs

 

From: Adam Reed To: Objectivism Subject: OWL: History Continues Date: Wed, 26 Mar 2003 01:34:23 -0500

 

I am sorry that I have neglected this list in the last few weeks. I have been grading the work of nearly a hundred students in three courses for the last couple of weeks; now that my winter quarter grades are in, I am taking this opportunity to note my differences with the anti-war views of Chris Sciabarra and Russ Madden.

 

At the root of these differences is a disagreement about the relative importance of history in social and political judgement. By history, I mean the sum of the facts of reality in which political thought must be grounded if it is to be objective - that is, if it is to be coherent with the ontological and epistemological principles of Objectivism.  However much I admire Chris' Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, I can't help noticing that only 3 articles in the first three years of the Journal had a significant historical component, and those dealt only with intellectual (2 articles) and economic (1 article) history. About social and political history the Journal, at least to date, has been silent. If you didn't actually read Chris' study of the Ayn Rand Transcript, you would never guess, from scanning the Journal, that Ayn Rand was a history major. Now I know that this is not Chris' fault - the American libertarian movement has a long history of ahistorical rationalism, that is, of treating politics as a floating abstraction ungrounded in history; and it is primarily libertarians who write about Ayn Rand today. But when it comes to politics, especially applicable politics, history matters.

 

And the strange, at least to philosophers, aspect of history is that social and political systems change in real time. The statements that Chris and Russ cite from Ayn Rand were grounded in the specific historical setting in which they were written. The context of statements quoted by Russ Madden, for example, was wars fought with conscripted armies, and the nationalist ideology - the sacrifice of the individual to the good of the Nation - in which conscription was grounded. The unfortunate fact is that nationalism had to putrify before collectivist intellectuals would recognize it as dead; the fortunate fact is that no one, not even the most constipated collectivist, takes the morality of nationalism seriously any more. The moral and historical evaluation of wars fought for a rational purpose with all-volunteer forces must be different, and one should not assume that this evaluation will have the same outcome.

 

Similarly, Rand's statements about "the New Fascism" responded to the presidency of J. F. Kennedy; one should not assume that history actually moved in that direction, because in fact, thanks mostly to Ludwig von Mises but also in part to Ayn Rand, it didn't. John F. Kennedy was the son and political protege' of Joseph P. Kennedy, the most influential admirer and advocate of Fascism in the FDR administration, Democratic machine boss of Massachussetts and FDR's ambassador to Great Britain.  After the outbreak of WWII the elder Kennedy censored himself of his previous praise for Franco, Mussolini and Hitler, but the substance of the values he inculcated in his children, and promoted through them, did not change. It was still 100%-pure Fascism, and Kennedy's court intellectuals did their best to promote a taboo on its name even as they promulgated its substance. Ayn Rand, of course, would not abide by this taboo. And about the actual politics of 1965 she was absolutely, 100% right. But the world - the facts of reality - did not stand still for the last 38 years, and Rand herself would have been the last to try to embalm her take on the Kennedys as some kind of lasting principle of politics.

 

So what has changed?

 

First, Oscar Lange's conjecture about the possibility of rationally calculated central economic planning has been conclusively disconfirmed by the failure of every single experiment in central economic planning over the last century. As Robert Heilbroner, the world's most eminent Marxist economist until he gathered and publicized the evidence that disconfirmed Marxist economics, wrote in 1995, von Mises was right, and "rational central planning" is _in reality_ an oxymoron.  This, of course, includes the Fascist as well as the Marxist models of state-directed economy. No one, except for openly anti-scientific troglodytes, advocates state direction of the economy any more. And of course fascist economies - of which Saddam Hussein's Iraq is one of the last extant specimens - are just as extinct as their communist counterparts.

 

Second, Fascism has been replaced by a new invention, so far nameless, due primarily to former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore, of a political structure designed to maximize the dictator's payout without compromising his power: what I will call the klepto-conservative dictatorship. This new model of the proprietary state combines low taxes and a minimally constrained economy - maximizing the dictator's payout - with totalitarian enforcement of social, cultural and ideological conformity to the dictator's values. At this point, most of the world's states, including Russia, China, their former satellites, theocratic states of the Middle East and Latin America, and also English-speaking countries including the United States, have been moving in the direction of a Singapore-style klepto-conservative dictatorship. The latter resembles Fascism in some respects, but in others is quite different, and the differences between the two must be kept clearly in focus if one is to oppose klepto-conservatism effectively.

 

Third, the theocratic variant of klepto-conservative totalitarianism has developed suicide terrorism as an effective delivery system for weapons of mass destruction. This permits dictators to blackmail the rest of the world, both for financial gain and obtain conformity with the dictator's values.  While Al Quaida has been the most effective of the new quasi-private terrorist organizations, it is not the only one. And even if it were, there is nothing to prevent a Saddam Hussein (or other dictators) from organizing their own terrorist delivery systems for such weapons if they ever completed their development. Such quasi-private organizations can deliver mass death with near-complete deniability, and massive retaliation becomes very problematic, absent the kind of public proof that such organizations are optimized to eliminate.

 

Fourth, the new dictators are generic and, unlike the former satellite systems of Stalin and Hitler, capable of giving each other personal protection, refuge, and a luxurious retirement if one of them is overthrown. Stalin was held at bay precisely because he knew that if he ever lost power everyone, including his former subordinates, would turn against him. Osama bin Laden is, as far as we know, living privately in one of Sultan of Brunei's opulent palaces, and receiving, as part of the Sultan's hospitality, the services of the Sultan's world-famous sex slaves. There is no reason to believe that other potentates, including Saddam Hussein, are the least deterred by the prospect of such consequences.

 

Under these conditions no responsible government, including even a hypothetical Objectivist government of the United States, could permit Saddam Hussein to continue the development of chemical and bacteriological weapons even more advanced than those he has used in the past. Of course success against Saddam Hussein will accelerate the movement of the United States in the direction of klepto-conservative totalitarianism, but the consequences of failure, and especially of appeasement, are likely to be more immediate and worse. To paraphrase ben Gurion, one has to fight Hussein as if there were no Bush, and fight Bush as if there were no Hussein. That's a difficult program, but we live in difficult times. And, in even more difficult times, ben Gurion's strategy worked.

--

                                        AdamReed@Monmouth.com

 

Context matters. There is seldom only one cause for *anything*.

 

From: Chris Matthew Sciabarra To: Philosophy of Objectivism List* Subject: OWL: Re: History Continues Date: Thu, 27 Mar 2003 18:22:07 -0500

 

I appreciate Adam Reed's feedback; he had posted a version of this on the SOLO forum, where I replied to him.  I'll simply reply in brief here:

 

With regard to Adam's emphasis on history:  he'll get no argument from me.

 

He is also correct that THE JOURNAL OF AYN RAND STUDIES has not had much in the way of historical essays in its pages.  I can promise that we have no fewer than four articles currently in development that attempt to redress this imbalance.

 

Adam is also correct to observe that "social and political systems change in real time."  But while the statements that Rand made on foreign policy "were grounded in the specific historical setting in which they were written," that doesn't make them any less philosophical or any less applicable to our current context.  Rand's discussion of the "new fascism," though historically specific to her evaluation of JFK and LBJ, did ~not~ change fundamentally in her evaluations of Nixon, Ford, Carter, or Reagan thereafter.  I'm confident that they would not have changed even in the light of the fall of the Soviet Union, or in any evaluation of Bush I, Clinton, or Bush II---because she spoke not to the historical ~concretes~ as much as to the ~principle~ entailed in interventionism.

 

And that system of interventionism has not gone away.  If anything, it has increased in scope.  Just because economic realities killed ~central~ planning, they did not kill the state impulse to regulate economic life.  The fall of communism has not meant a victory for capitalism.  And what we've seen is a vast extension of the neofascist way of doing things---which entails massive interest-group privileges that have gone ~global~.  The "new fascism" that Rand described was ~never~ about central planning; it was about a pragmatic, ad hoc, interventionist process that made possible the ever-increasing proliferation of civil war among pressure groups, each vying for a special privilege at one another's expense.  Like Mises and Hayek, Rand predicted that this process would only increase over time and go global in its reach---unless checked fundamentally.

 

"New Fascism" is not "fascism with the gloves off."  It is much more subtle than that; it is a kind of "liberal corporatism"---keeping procedural democratic selection, while keeping ~real~ political and social change out of the voting machine.  It entails massive economic manipulation through such financial institutions as the Federal Reserve; it matters not ~who~ runs the central bank.  Not even a former Objectivist such as Alan Greenspan could ~stop~ the process of boom-and-bust that emanates from the financial levers of that central bank, or the massive redistribution of wealth that occurs subsequently, enriching some groups at the expense of others.  Government-business partnerships are alive and well and ~much~ more extensive and prolific than they were in the 1960s when Rand made her first statements on the neofascist nature of the mixed economy.

 

Now, just because the ~system~ is one that might be tending toward the kind of dictatorship that Adam projects does not mean that we can do ~nothing~ in the face of other despotisms, especially against murderous organizations like Al Qaeda.  To be frank, whatever my views on the wisdom of the Iraqi incursion at this time, I certainly hope that US troops finish the job soon, with minimal loss of life.  I have never had sympathy for a morally illegitimate regime that feeds its dissidents feet-first into a wood chipper.  And I never had sympathy with the argument that the US required international consensus from a morally bankrupt United Nations in order to act.

 

Be that as it may, I still advocate, in the long-run, a ~massive~ change in foreign policy.  Rand stated unequivocally that such a change could not occur without a correlative change in domestic policy, which is why the revolution she sought was so ~comprehensive~ in its implications.

 

~Neutralizing~ imminent threats, such as Al Qaeda, does not require the remaking of the world in our own image---especially when attempting to do so will involve a further extension of the very ~neofascist~ system that Rand repudiated on every level.  Attempting to impose a new US colonialism in the Middle East, as some Objectivists have argued (see, for example, Ron Pisaturo's post-WTC essay at http://www.capmag.com/article.asp?ID=1117 ), does not make the world safe for democracy.  Rand rejected Wilsonian social engineering and nation-building as a pretext for World War I and as a pretext for World War II---though Ron Pisaturo goes far beyond what Woodrow Wilson could have ever imagined.  I am confident that she would ~not~ have supported it today.

 

I'm working on an article for THE FREE RADICAL that will explore these themes in a more structured fashion, so thanks, as always, for additional food for thought...

 

Cheers, Chris

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6 hours ago, Peter said:

Thank you for your forbearance, Tony. I know the philosophical distinction between being skeptical and being a skeptic. I notice Ghs puts my contribution in all caps. I think he was already pissed with me in 2000. Odd. I cobbled together three letters and the first is from 2000 and the second two from 2003. Are they connected?

Pete

 

From: "George H. Smith" To: <atlantis subject: ATL: Re: "Why Atheism?" (1-4) Date: Mon, 11 Dec 2000 18:50:30 -0600/ In several posts Peter Taylor quoted from "Why Atheism" and then followed up with comments or questions. I have extracted those remarks that seemed to call for a response and briefly commented on them.

 

Peter quotes Etienne Gilson as follows (in part): "n each instance of philosophical thinking, both the philosopher and his particular doctrine are ruled from above by an impersonal necessity. In the first place, philosophers are free to lay down their own sets of principles, but once this is done, they no longer think as they wish - they think as they can. In the second place it seems to result from the facts under discussion, that any attempt on the part of a philosopher to shun the consequences of his own position is doomed to failure. What he himself declines to say will be said by his disciples, if he has any; if he has none, it may remain eternally unsaid, but it is there, and anybody going back to the same principles, be it several centuries later, will have to face the same conclusions."

 

And Peter asks: "DOES THIS DESCRIBE PEIKOFF, YOURSELF AND OTHER INTERPRETERS OF THE THOUGHTS OF AYN RAND?"

 

Yes, of course. I quoted Gilson in WA? in the course of developing a point about the inner logic of ideas, and how seemingly innocuous ideas have sometimes carried within themselves implications with radical potential. This is why philosophy and science have often taken unexpected turns, as the interpreters and expositors of a theory pursue implications that were not apparent to its originator and who, if he had been aware, may have disagreed or disapproved of them. In other words, ideas, like actions, have unintended and unforeseen consequences.

 

In "Why Atheism?" I wrote (in part): "Philosophy is the quest for wisdom; it is a sustained and systematic effort to understand ourselves and the world in which we live. Many people claim that the pursuit of such knowledge has enriched their lives, and there is no reason to doubt such claims. Contrary to its critics therefore, philosophy does tend to progress, but it does so at the personal level. Measured by this standard, philosophy has succeeded may thousands of times and will continue to do so in the future . . "

 

And Peter asks: WHAT OF THE OBJECTIVIST POSITION THAT PHILOSOPHIES BECOME 'MOVEMENTS AND THESE MOVEMENTS INFLUENCE THE FOLLOWING PHILOSOPHIES THAT THEN BECOME MOVEMENTS -  AS IN THE PEIKOVIAN PROGRESSION FROM KANT TO HEGEL TO MARX?

 

This is actually a very common view, not a strictly Objectivist one. In any case, my remarks in no way deny the existence or importance of philosophical movements. I was addressing the common criticism that philosophy does not progress, since we are still debating the same issues that were debated 2500 years ago by the Greeks. My point was that philosophy, by its very nature, is virtually useless for an individual unless he considers and attempts to resolve the perennial problems for himself. Philosophy, unlike the special sciences, is not a cumulative discipline in this sense.

 

In WA? I wrote (in part): "Thus, if Bacon's stress on the inherent fallibility of reason does not land him in skepticism, this is because he rejects infallibility as a criterion of certainty. Certainty is something we achieve through a sustained mental effort, a laborious and systematic process of trial and error, not something that is revealed to us in a flash of infallible insight."

 

And Peter replied:  WHAT? NO "EUREKA" OR PERHAPS, AS LOUIS PASTEUR SAID, "CHANCE FAVORS THE PREPARED MIND?"

 

I don't know if Bacon ever addressed the issue of spontaneous creative insights, but many of his admirers did. (The nature of "genius" was a popular subject throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.) Bacon would doubtless have distinguished between the psychological origin of an insight and its verification.  Insights often occur after a considerable period of subconscious gestation, after which they may appear to the conscious mind in a kind of Eureka experience. But such insights sometimes turn out to have no value at all, or only a very limited one, so they must be subjected to rigorous methods of proof. As Karl Popper repeatedly emphasized, we should always keep in mind the crucial difference between the process of discovery (how knowledge is originally acquired) and the logic of justification (the reasons for accepting that knowledge).

 

In WA? I wrote: "To say that a proposition is credible is not to say that it is justified but that it is worthy of being justified. A credible proposition is one that we regard as worthy of further consideration. Without credibility a proposition will simply pass through our consciousness without stopping long enough to be examined."

 

And Peter replied: "AGAIN, I AM REMINDED OF ANARCHISM. I LIKEN THE ANARCHIC SPIRIT TO THAT OF PEOPLE LIVING ON THE LAWLESS AMERICAN FRONTIER FROM 1600 TO 1900. THE OUTLAWS, NOT THE SETTLERS  :o)"

 

I don't quite see the connection here, but it is interesting to note that many anarchists credit Ayn Rand for leading them to their position. They see anarchism as resulting from the "inner logic" of Rand's own theories, even though she expressly repudiated it. This is an example of the "impersonal necessity" of ideas to which Gilson referred. (Of course, this doesn't necessarily mean that their inferences are correct; that is another matter altogether.)

Ghs

 

From: Adam Reed To: Objectivism Subject: OWL: History Continues Date: Wed, 26 Mar 2003 01:34:23 -0500

 

I am sorry that I have neglected this list in the last few weeks. I have been grading the work of nearly a hundred students in three courses for the last couple of weeks; now that my winter quarter grades are in, I am taking this opportunity to note my differences with the anti-war views of Chris Sciabarra and Russ Madden.

 

At the root of these differences is a disagreement about the relative importance of history in social and political judgement. By history, I mean the sum of the facts of reality in which political thought must be grounded if it is to be objective - that is, if it is to be coherent with the ontological and epistemological principles of Objectivism.  However much I admire Chris' Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, I can't help noticing that only 3 articles in the first three years of the Journal had a significant historical component, and those dealt only with intellectual (2 articles) and economic (1 article) history. About social and political history the Journal, at least to date, has been silent. If you didn't actually read Chris' study of the Ayn Rand Transcript, you would never guess, from scanning the Journal, that Ayn Rand was a history major. Now I know that this is not Chris' fault - the American libertarian movement has a long history of ahistorical rationalism, that is, of treating politics as a floating abstraction ungrounded in history; and it is primarily libertarians who write about Ayn Rand today. But when it comes to politics, especially applicable politics, history matters.

 

And the strange, at least to philosophers, aspect of history is that social and political systems change in real time. The statements that Chris and Russ cite from Ayn Rand were grounded in the specific historical setting in which they were written. The context of statements quoted by Russ Madden, for example, was wars fought with conscripted armies, and the nationalist ideology - the sacrifice of the individual to the good of the Nation - in which conscription was grounded. The unfortunate fact is that nationalism had to putrify before collectivist intellectuals would recognize it as dead; the fortunate fact is that no one, not even the most constipated collectivist, takes the morality of nationalism seriously any more. The moral and historical evaluation of wars fought for a rational purpose with all-volunteer forces must be different, and one should not assume that this evaluation will have the same outcome.

 

Similarly, Rand's statements about "the New Fascism" responded to the presidency of J. F. Kennedy; one should not assume that history actually moved in that direction, because in fact, thanks mostly to Ludwig von Mises but also in part to Ayn Rand, it didn't. John F. Kennedy was the son and political protege' of Joseph P. Kennedy, the most influential admirer and advocate of Fascism in the FDR administration, Democratic machine boss of Massachussetts and FDR's ambassador to Great Britain.  After the outbreak of WWII the elder Kennedy censored himself of his previous praise for Franco, Mussolini and Hitler, but the substance of the values he inculcated in his children, and promoted through them, did not change. It was still 100%-pure Fascism, and Kennedy's court intellectuals did their best to promote a taboo on its name even as they promulgated its substance. Ayn Rand, of course, would not abide by this taboo. And about the actual politics of 1965 she was absolutely, 100% right. But the world - the facts of reality - did not stand still for the last 38 years, and Rand herself would have been the last to try to embalm her take on the Kennedys as some kind of lasting principle of politics.

 

So what has changed?

 

First, Oscar Lange's conjecture about the possibility of rationally calculated central economic planning has been conclusively disconfirmed by the failure of every single experiment in central economic planning over the last century. As Robert Heilbroner, the world's most eminent Marxist economist until he gathered and publicized the evidence that disconfirmed Marxist economics, wrote in 1995, von Mises was right, and "rational central planning" is _in reality_ an oxymoron.  This, of course, includes the Fascist as well as the Marxist models of state-directed economy. No one, except for openly anti-scientific troglodytes, advocates state direction of the economy any more. And of course fascist economies - of which Saddam Hussein's Iraq is one of the last extant specimens - are just as extinct as their communist counterparts.

 

Second, Fascism has been replaced by a new invention, so far nameless, due primarily to former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore, of a political structure designed to maximize the dictator's payout without compromising his power: what I will call the klepto-conservative dictatorship. This new model of the proprietary state combines low taxes and a minimally constrained economy - maximizing the dictator's payout - with totalitarian enforcement of social, cultural and ideological conformity to the dictator's values. At this point, most of the world's states, including Russia, China, their former satellites, theocratic states of the Middle East and Latin America, and also English-speaking countries including the United States, have been moving in the direction of a Singapore-style klepto-conservative dictatorship. The latter resembles Fascism in some respects, but in others is quite different, and the differences between the two must be kept clearly in focus if one is to oppose klepto-conservatism effectively.

 

Third, the theocratic variant of klepto-conservative totalitarianism has developed suicide terrorism as an effective delivery system for weapons of mass destruction. This permits dictators to blackmail the rest of the world, both for financial gain and obtain conformity with the dictator's values.  While Al Quaida has been the most effective of the new quasi-private terrorist organizations, it is not the only one. And even if it were, there is nothing to prevent a Saddam Hussein (or other dictators) from organizing their own terrorist delivery systems for such weapons if they ever completed their development. Such quasi-private organizations can deliver mass death with near-complete deniability, and massive retaliation becomes very problematic, absent the kind of public proof that such organizations are optimized to eliminate.

 

Fourth, the new dictators are generic and, unlike the former satellite systems of Stalin and Hitler, capable of giving each other personal protection, refuge, and a luxurious retirement if one of them is overthrown. Stalin was held at bay precisely because he knew that if he ever lost power everyone, including his former subordinates, would turn against him. Osama bin Laden is, as far as we know, living privately in one of Sultan of Brunei's opulent palaces, and receiving, as part of the Sultan's hospitality, the services of the Sultan's world-famous sex slaves. There is no reason to believe that other potentates, including Saddam Hussein, are the least deterred by the prospect of such consequences.

 

Under these conditions no responsible government, including even a hypothetical Objectivist government of the United States, could permit Saddam Hussein to continue the development of chemical and bacteriological weapons even more advanced than those he has used in the past. Of course success against Saddam Hussein will accelerate the movement of the United States in the direction of klepto-conservative totalitarianism, but the consequences of failure, and especially of appeasement, are likely to be more immediate and worse. To paraphrase ben Gurion, one has to fight Hussein as if there were no Bush, and fight Bush as if there were no Hussein. That's a difficult program, but we live in difficult times. And, in even more difficult times, ben Gurion's strategy worked.

--

                                        AdamReed@Monmouth.com

 

Context matters. There is seldom only one cause for *anything*.

 

From: Chris Matthew Sciabarra To: Philosophy of Objectivism List* Subject: OWL: Re: History Continues Date: Thu, 27 Mar 2003 18:22:07 -0500

 

I appreciate Adam Reed's feedback; he had posted a version of this on the SOLO forum, where I replied to him.  I'll simply reply in brief here:

 

With regard to Adam's emphasis on history:  he'll get no argument from me.

 

He is also correct that THE JOURNAL OF AYN RAND STUDIES has not had much in the way of historical essays in its pages.  I can promise that we have no fewer than four articles currently in development that attempt to redress this imbalance.

 

Adam is also correct to observe that "social and political systems change in real time."  But while the statements that Rand made on foreign policy "were grounded in the specific historical setting in which they were written," that doesn't make them any less philosophical or any less applicable to our current context.  Rand's discussion of the "new fascism," though historically specific to her evaluation of JFK and LBJ, did ~not~ change fundamentally in her evaluations of Nixon, Ford, Carter, or Reagan thereafter.  I'm confident that they would not have changed even in the light of the fall of the Soviet Union, or in any evaluation of Bush I, Clinton, or Bush II---because she spoke not to the historical ~concretes~ as much as to the ~principle~ entailed in interventionism.

 

And that system of interventionism has not gone away.  If anything, it has increased in scope.  Just because economic realities killed ~central~ planning, they did not kill the state impulse to regulate economic life.  The fall of communism has not meant a victory for capitalism.  And what we've seen is a vast extension of the neofascist way of doing things---which entails massive interest-group privileges that have gone ~global~.  The "new fascism" that Rand described was ~never~ about central planning; it was about a pragmatic, ad hoc, interventionist process that made possible the ever-increasing proliferation of civil war among pressure groups, each vying for a special privilege at one another's expense.  Like Mises and Hayek, Rand predicted that this process would only increase over time and go global in its reach---unless checked fundamentally.

 

"New Fascism" is not "fascism with the gloves off."  It is much more subtle than that; it is a kind of "liberal corporatism"---keeping procedural democratic selection, while keeping ~real~ political and social change out of the voting machine.  It entails massive economic manipulation through such financial institutions as the Federal Reserve; it matters not ~who~ runs the central bank.  Not even a former Objectivist such as Alan Greenspan could ~stop~ the process of boom-and-bust that emanates from the financial levers of that central bank, or the massive redistribution of wealth that occurs subsequently, enriching some groups at the expense of others.  Government-business partnerships are alive and well and ~much~ more extensive and prolific than they were in the 1960s when Rand made her first statements on the neofascist nature of the mixed economy.

 

Now, just because the ~system~ is one that might be tending toward the kind of dictatorship that Adam projects does not mean that we can do ~nothing~ in the face of other despotisms, especially against murderous organizations like Al Qaeda.  To be frank, whatever my views on the wisdom of the Iraqi incursion at this time, I certainly hope that US troops finish the job soon, with minimal loss of life.  I have never had sympathy for a morally illegitimate regime that feeds its dissidents feet-first into a wood chipper.  And I never had sympathy with the argument that the US required international consensus from a morally bankrupt United Nations in order to act.

 

Be that as it may, I still advocate, in the long-run, a ~massive~ change in foreign policy.  Rand stated unequivocally that such a change could not occur without a correlative change in domestic policy, which is why the revolution she sought was so ~comprehensive~ in its implications.

 

~Neutralizing~ imminent threats, such as Al Qaeda, does not require the remaking of the world in our own image---especially when attempting to do so will involve a further extension of the very ~neofascist~ system that Rand repudiated on every level.  Attempting to impose a new US colonialism in the Middle East, as some Objectivists have argued (see, for example, Ron Pisaturo's post-WTC essay at http://www.capmag.com/article.asp?ID=1117 ), does not make the world safe for democracy.  Rand rejected Wilsonian social engineering and nation-building as a pretext for World War I and as a pretext for World War II---though Ron Pisaturo goes far beyond what Woodrow Wilson could have ever imagined.  I am confident that she would ~not~ have supported it today.

 

I'm working on an article for THE FREE RADICAL that will explore these themes in a more structured fashion, so thanks, as always, for additional food for thought...

 

Cheers, Chris

Thank you for this fine collection of insights.

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"Contrary to its critics therefore, philosophy does tend to progress, but it does so at the personal level. Measured by this standard, philosophy has succeeded many thousands of times and will continue to do so in the future..."

Quite brilliant words. In effect, always the individual over "the movement", nowhere more apt than for the nature of Objectivism and its future.

 

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39 minutes ago, anthony said:

"Contrary to its critics therefore, philosophy does tend to progress, but it does so at the personal level. Measured by this standard, philosophy has succeeded many thousands of times and will continue to do so in the future..."

Quite brilliant words. In effect, always the individual over "the movement", nowhere more apt than for the nature of Objectivism and its future.

Objectivism qua Objectivism has no future. Objectivism qua what the future puts into it does. The philosophy today is a piece of lead--that's Rand's personal philosophy. One identifies the basics and adds in one's own culture. Then Objectivism is the philosophy of whomever. Technically it needs work in the ethical/moral section so rational self interest is more universally appealable. Everybody with a half developed brain has a philosophy which automatically includes moral philosophy for a philosophy without ethics and morality is no philosophy at all. And most people's philosophy is an irrational mishmash, but shooting principles into such brains with literary art and some articles in a few books isn't enough. What's needed is empirical work and some better acceptance of what is and why it is. This is because there is rationality of sorts in that mishmash. And everybody has some mishmash--except our Bob. That's the simplicity of being an Aspie.

--Brant

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"They [anarchists] see anarchism as resulting from the "inner logic" of Rand's own theories, even though she expressly repudiated it".

(Ghs replying to P.Taylor)

Fascinating that anarchists found support in Rand... ("inner logic"). To be clear I have little time for the anarchist model, intellectually, morally or practically. (I think my objections relate to man's fallibility and the reality of his society). However, just ~sometimes~ it occurs to me that Rand ~may~ have had an *anarchical* 'sense of life' ("subconscious, preconceptual") preceding her conceptual convictions and view - of man's ultimate autonomy, independence, volitionality, egoism - etc. - all of which anarchists might well have sensed or drawn from. Mainly, of course the idea of "competing governments" appears to proceed nicely (even morally) from laissez-faire capitalism, if one has a mind to. Except, rights/capitalism are the precursor to, rationale for, and sole purpose of government.

(One, single "agency" I believe must be outside and apart from competition, and can certainly be, when held to uncompromising, delimited, objective standards. And as Rand said, competition isn't a primary aspect for Capitalism).

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On 7/9/2017 at 11:44 PM, BaalChatzaf said:

  Of course the complete skeptic contradicts himself when he says "I know that I know nothing..."  

1

Too true. Pushing on from there, how does the Empiricist become skeptical not only about reality, the mind or knowledge, but about value? The version Hume had would not derive value from fact, finally depending on passions (subjective values) to evaluate everything. Differently, Kant the rationalist "made room for Faith" (intrinsic value). Superficially, it looks like they each incurred on reason and brought "value" back to a brand of mysticism, avoiding objective value.

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6 hours ago, Brant Gaede said:

Objectivism qua Objectivism has no future. Objectivism qua what the future puts into it does. The philosophy today is a piece of lead--that's Rand's personal philosophy. One identifies the basics and adds in one's own culture. Then Objectivism is the philosophy of whomever. Technically it needs work in the ethical/moral section so rational self interest is more universally appealable. Everybody with a half developed brain has a philosophy which automatically includes moral philosophy for a philosophy without ethics and morality is no philosophy at all. And most people's philosophy is an irrational mishmash, but shooting principles into such brains with literary art and some articles in a few books isn't enough. What's needed is empirical work and some better acceptance of what is and why it is. This is because there is rationality of sorts in that mishmash. And everybody has some mishmash--except our Bob. That's the simplicity of being an Aspie.

--Brant

I was just thinking again that consensus all the time, from one individual to the next, wouldn't ever happen, especially for Objectivism which can only be a personal venture, with each determining his independent path through it and his own rate of comprehension. If we could see below the surface we'd see encouraging signs of success, a strong future, I think. I'm sort of "anarchist" about any leading body/institution bringing its influence to bear for "a Movement". The main body, ARI, has done some things well and many wrong, worst of which were the early leanings to Objectivism-Rationalism and Objectivism-Intrinsicism. (Concepts uninduced from real fact - and "received" value - "religiosity" - are seriously harmful to this philosophy, I don;t have to mention). 'Internal politics', which I've avoided like the plague all my life, in a fight for intellectual power 'split loyalties' and put individualist Objectivism on the back foot for a while, it seems to me (from afar and much later). 

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3 hours ago, anthony said:

Too true. Pushing on from there, how does the Empiricist become skeptical not only about reality, the mind or knowledge, but about value? The version Hume had would not derive value from fact, finally depending on passions (subjective values) to evaluate everything. Differently, Kant the rationalist "made room for Faith" (intrinsic value). Superficially, it looks like they each incurred on reason and brought "value" back to a brand of mysticism, avoiding objective value.

No Ought flows logically from an IS.   Ought Statements and Is Statements  are semantically distinct.  Only arbitrary postulations can connected them. 

To the closest we can get empirically are statements that  connect means and ends.   Given the ends  what are the means of acheiving them.  Nothing in the realm of fact tells us what ends  we should strive for. 

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8 minutes ago, BaalChatzaf said:

No Ought flows logically from an IS.   Ought Statements and Is Statements  are semantically distinct.  Only arbitrary postulations can connected them. 

To the closest we can get empirically are statements that  connect means and ends.   Given the ends  what are the means of acheiving them.  Nothing in the realm of fact tells us what ends  we should strive for. 

Do you mean like whether or not you want to die of starvation or dehydration? That starvation or dehydration (or not) has nothing to do with facts?

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1 hour ago, BaalChatzaf said:

No Ought flows logically from an IS.   Ought Statements and Is Statements  are semantically distinct.  Only arbitrary postulations can connected them. 

To the closest we can get empirically are statements that  connect means and ends.   Given the ends  what are the means of acheiving them.  Nothing in the realm of fact tells us what ends  we should strive for. 

John Q. Fiddlesticks is considering becoming a serial killer. He wants to make the morally correct decision. This is a difficult decision for him because he is totally clueless about morality. He goes to you for enlightenment that will help him decide. What do you tell him?

 

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57 minutes ago, merjet said:

Do you mean like whether or not you want to die of starvation or dehydration? That starvation or dehydration (or not) has nothing to do with facts?

Choosing to live  or not to live is a preferences.  What in the laws of physics tells us that we should strive to go on living?  On the other hand we can say a great deal about what physical  conditions promote our lives and what physical conditions  negatively impact our lives. 

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2 minutes ago, jts said:

John Q. Fiddlesticks is considering becoming a serial killer. He wants to make the morally correct decision. This is a difficult decision for him because he is totally clueless about morality. He goes to you for enlightenment that will help him decide. What do you tell him?

 

I have nothing to say or teach John Q.  unless he is thinking of making me or mine a victim in which caseI tell him specifically what I will do to prevent it.  The best I can do in general is to remind him of the legal consequences of serial killing. 

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3 hours ago, BaalChatzaf said:

No Ought flows logically from an IS.   Ought Statements and Is Statements  are semantically distinct.  Only arbitrary postulations can connected them. 

To the closest we can get empirically are statements that  connect means and ends.   Given the ends  what are the means of acheiving them.  Nothing in the realm of fact tells us what ends  we should strive for. 

"No Ought flows logically from an IS". Who or what made that "logical" statement? A robot? A disembodied brain named Ba'al? Beats me how you manage to sever "logic" from the logician, i.e. from a man.  

To point out your self-contradiction - Let's say for argument it's definitely proven that the Earth temperature IS slowly rising. What ought mankind do about it? a. panic; throw a trillion dollars at the problem looking for alternative energies, sacrificing industry, economies, human activity, liberties etc. in the hope of a small temp reduction? b. relax and handle each change creatively as it comes while benefitting from any pluses? (or, so on).

You notice, there's IS, there is the ought. Directly, unsemantically, connected.  

Every physical fact has "value" - including disvalue or neutral value - for somebody. If he's human(?)

I've often read you entertain 'metaphysical value-judgments' about Climate Change. For one, I recall you cheerfully anticipating better crop yields, growing grapes in northern climes, or whatever. Therefore - an over all "good", yes? That's irrelevant, you could as well judge GW is "bad". But you regularly (in many topics) acknowledge the concept of 'values in facts' at the same time you poo-poo it.

 

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4 hours ago, BaalChatzaf said:

No Ought flows logically from an IS.   Ought Statements and Is Statements  are semantically distinct.  Only arbitrary postulations can connected them. 

To the closest we can get empirically are statements that  connect means and ends.   Given the ends  what are the means of acheiving them.  Nothing in the realm of fact tells us what ends  we should strive for. 

If you're dehydrated you ought to hydrate yourself (while hiking).

"Ought and Is statements are semantically distinct" so you ought to say "Only arbitrary postulations can connected (sic) them"?!?

Reality is real but to know its ises you oughta be a scientist with some help from mathematics.

--Brant

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43 minutes ago, anthony said:

 

To point out your self-contradiction - Let's say for argument it's definitely proven that the Earth temperature IS slowly rising. What ought mankind do about it? a. panic; throw a trillion dollars at the problem looking for alternative energies, sacrificing industry, economies, human activity, liberties etc. in the hope of a small temp reduction? b. relax and handle each change creatively as it comes while benefitting from any pluses? (or, so on).

 

Given that we wish to survive the effects of the hypothetical temperature rise  we can study ways  of shielding ourselves from solar radiation (The umbrella or the awning are simple devices that do that)  or we can work on way of increasing cloud cover which will accomplish the same end.  Or we can work on air conditioning systems with high efficiency.  Or we can accept the temperature increase as God's Will and do nothing.  Or we can build spacecraft and move to a cooler place.  Given the end (surviving the the temperature increase)  we can work out several means to that end.  But nothing in the laws of physics compels us to work for our survival.  

My question:  what self contradiction?  There is none. 

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9 minutes ago, Brant Gaede said:

If you're dehydrated you ought to hydrate yourself (while hiking).

Assuming one wishes to end the discomforts and harms of dehydration.  What if one wishes to be dehydrated?

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52 minutes ago, anthony said:

"No Ought flows logically from an IS". Who or what made that "logical" statement? A robot? A disembodied brain named Ba'al? Beats me how you manage to sever "logic" from the logician, i.e. from a man.  

To point out your self-contradiction - Let's say for argument it's definitely proven that the Earth temperature IS slowly rising. What ought mankind do about it? a. panic; throw a trillion dollars at the problem looking for alternative energies, sacrificing industry, economies, human activity, liberties etc. in the hope of a small temp reduction? b. relax and handle each change creatively as it comes while benefitting from any pluses? (or, so on).

You notice, there's IS, there is the ought. Directly, unsemantically, connected.  

Every physical fact has "value" - including disvalue or neutral value - for somebody. If he's human(?)

I've often read you entertain 'metaphysical value-judgments' about Climate Change. For one, I recall you cheerfully anticipating better crop yields, growing grapes in northern climes, or whatever. Therefore - an over all "good", yes? That's irrelevant, you could as well judge GW is "bad". But you regularly (in many topics) acknowledge the concept of 'values in facts' at the same time you poo-poo it.

 

Value inheres and originates in the valuer.  Natural facts in and of themselves have no value.  What about all the facts that were before sentient earthling capable of valuing anything came about by evolution?   Did those unappreciated, unobserved facts have value?  Or was value assigned to them by valuers?

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1 hour ago, BaalChatzaf said:

Assuming one wishes to end the discomforts and harms of dehydration.  What if one wishes to be dehydrated?

Then one ought not to hydrate oneself.

In physical reality if a chemist combines X with Y in A, B and C circumstances, Z will result. Every time. We can call this the destiny of the action.

There's a cowboy song which sorta goes like this:

"Destiny, there's no escape for any man

"From the very day you're born

"Your destiny is planned"

Bob, all you're saying is the song is horseshit. And I agree.

But to say you can't get an Ought from an Is all you're saying is you can't get one ought. You get multiple Oughts but multiple oughts are Doxa.

Human free will, however, is not Doxa. It's a fact. Otherwise multiple oughts are not possible.

Therefore multiple oughts are not Doxa.

There is no such thing as doxa in any formal sense. That's just shorthand. What there are is gradations of certainty.

That's why from your scientific fortress you can use "doxa" as a smear word. The smear is determined by your continual context of knowledge superiority.

A true scientist is usually, though not always, modest.

You are neither modest nor a scientist.

Your brain structure precludes you coming down into the give and take of philosophy land except for your dismissive drivebys.

Objectively philosophy land will always be "doxa" though only as shorthand. Philosophy land is contention land. But contention is the hallmark of freedom. If it weren't for doxa there would be no possibility of freedom for freedom rests on individualism and to know with scientific absolute certainty what is right and wrong and what OUGHT to be means, logically, genocide, because the genocidalists having seized political power do their genocide in the name of scientific moral certainty. Hence the Nazis and the Commies. The logical result of classical or orthodox Objectivism is genocide in the name of righteousness--not that it has to go so far. Of course, if that happens Objectivism will have deteriorated into a hijacked big and usable name.

If it weren't for doxa science would not be possible. So much of science starts with doxa becomes verified through experiment.

All your philosophy so stated is good for is science confirmed by experiment. But here you are in doxa land telling us about doxa this and doxa that including your own doxa using same. You've no grace to acknowledge where you are and what you're doing. All humanity is basically doxa including you and science too. And the more abstract the scientific theories, including Relativity, the more they are doxa. Newtonian physics is useful. Relativity is too--I think--so too quantum mechanics. So far. Ignorance is the ultimate doxa. The ultimate grace of any human being is to know his own ignorance. Newton did.

--Brant

got doxa?

 

 

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9 hours ago, Brant Gaede said:

Then one ought not to hydrate oneself.

In physical reality if a chemist combines X with Y in A, B and C circumstances, Z will result. Every time. We can call this the destiny of the action.

There's a cowboy song which sorta goes like this:

"Destiny, there's no escape for any man

"From the very day you're born

"Your destiny is planned"

Bob, all you're saying is the song is horseshit. And I agree.

But to say you can't get an Ought from an Is all you're saying is you can't get one ought. You get multiple Oughts but multiple oughts are Doxa.

Human free will, however, is not Doxa. It's a fact. Otherwise multiple oughts are not possible.

Therefore multiple oughts are not Doxa.

There is no such thing as doxa in any formal sense. That's just shorthand. What there are is gradations of certainty.

That's why from your scientific fortress you can use "doxa" as a smear word. The smear is determined by your continual context of knowledge superiority.

A true scientist is usually, though not always, modest.

You are neither modest nor a scientist.

Your brain structure precludes you coming down into the give and take of philosophy land except for your dismissive drivebys.

Objectively philosophy land will always be "doxa" though only as shorthand. Philosophy land is contention land. But contention is the hallmark of freedom. If it weren't for doxa there would be no possibility of freedom for freedom rests on individualism and to know with scientific absolute certainty what is right and wrong and what OUGHT to be means, logically, genocide, because the genocidalists having seized political power do their genocide in the name of scientific moral certainty. Hence the Nazis and the Commies. The logical result of classical or orthodox Objectivism is genocide in the name of righteousness--not that it has to go so far. Of course, if that happens Objectivism will have deteriorated into a hijacked big and usable name.

If it weren't for doxa science would not be possible. So much of science starts with doxa becomes verified through experiment.

All your philosophy so stated is good for is science confirmed by experiment. But here you are in doxa land telling us about doxa this and doxa that including your own doxa using same. You've no grace to acknowledge where you are and what you're doing. All humanity is basically doxa including you and science too. And the more abstract the scientific theories, including Relativity, the more they are doxa. Newtonian physics is useful. Relativity is too--I think--so too quantum mechanics. So far. Ignorance is the ultimate doxa. The ultimate grace of any human being is to know his own ignorance. Newton did.

--Brant

got doxa?

 

 

I have more Doxa than Faxa.   Going into  dry area with no water is one method among many for dehydration and perhaps suicide. 

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13 hours ago, BaalChatzaf said:

Value inheres and originates in the valuer.  Natural facts in and of themselves have no value.  What about all the facts that were before sentient earthling capable of valuing anything came about by evolution?   Did those unappreciated, unobserved facts have value?  Or was value assigned to them by valuers?

What you miss is, no intrinsic value, does not mean of no objective value(/disvalue). This develops with (and is a part of the nature of) a conceptual consciousness: almost simultaneous to seeing what something IS--follows--is this fact good or bad for me, my life? Identification-evaluation, the process beginning initially very young by way of the pleasure-pain response, and with applied effort becoming ever more deeply abstract  - on further to: is 'it' good for man's life? People with "brains" though may disagree.

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14 hours ago, BaalChatzaf said:

Given that we wish to survive the effects of the hypothetical temperature rise  we can study ways  of shielding ourselves from solar radiation (The umbrella or the awning are simple devices that do that)  or we can work on way of increasing cloud cover which will accomplish the same end.  Or we can work on air conditioning systems with high efficiency.  Or we can accept the temperature increase as God's Will and do nothing.  Or we can build spacecraft and move to a cooler place.  Given the end (surviving the the temperature increase)  we can work out several means to that end.  But nothing in the laws of physics compels us to work for our survival.  

My question:  what self contradiction?  There is none. 

I'd ask: If there is "No ought from an is" -- or, Value is divorced from fact! ... where did "laws of physics" come from and how did they come about?

Yes/no - are they the result of scientists(consciousness/identification) applying themselves to nature(existence/identity)?  

The laws they worked to find are valuable ~principles~ derived from observed facts. Right? Then fact and value are one and the same, in scientific exploration as anywhere.

What you wish, and haven't denied, is for the laws of physics to be more than principles, but rather "axioms" (in defiance of philosophers). Dig deeper to discover the true axiomatic bedrock, on which all principles rest. Like the unaware man looking at an iceberg you remain ignorant of the complete fact, that there's much more to reality than meets your eye. You aren't doing the honest scientists any favors by this advocacy of the primacy of "laws of physics", Bob. It turns physics into quasi-religious intrinsicism("Scientism"?). 

 

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Adam Reed wrote in 2003: Third, the theocratic variant of klepto-conservative totalitarianism has developed suicide terrorism as an effective delivery system for weapons of mass destruction. This permits dictators to blackmail the rest of the world, both for financial gain and obtain conformity with the dictator's values . . . . Such quasi-private organizations can deliver mass death with near-complete deniability, and massive retaliation becomes very problematic, absent the kind of public proof that such organizations are optimized to eliminate. end quote

Prophetic. I worry North Korea’s dictator will “hand off” nuclear weapons to terrorists and then deny any connection to the terrorist act. But how can he ensure his primary target is destroyed? If the first nuclear weapon goes off as instructed by Lil Kim, and explodes in Seoul or Washington D.C., then the terrorist network gets its second or third nuclear bomb.

Supposedly, an analysis of the fall – out, bomb size, and delivery system can tell a Western scientist who built the bomb that exploded, so Kim will be denying any involvement ten minutes after the bomb is detonated. But if a North Korean cargo ship docks in Africa for instance, and unloads a large container, we could not prove he delivered the bomb.

When the Soviet Union dissolved everyone worried that some of their nukes would be left in the hands of small countries and the only one I remember hearing about with some certainty was in the Ukraine.

Peter         

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3 hours ago, anthony said:

What you miss is, no intrinsic value, does not mean of no objective value(/disvalue). This develops with (and is a part of the nature of) a conceptual consciousness: almost simultaneous to seeing what something IS--follows--is this fact good or bad for me, my life? Identification-evaluation, the process beginning initially very young by way of the pleasure-pain response, and with applied effort becoming ever more deeply abstract  - on further to: is 'it' good for man's life? People with "brains" though may disagree.

What the dickens is "objective value"? A fact, as such,  is value free. 

Consider this fact:  Water at standard pressure boils at 212 deg.  F.   This is neither good nor bad.   Being dunked in boiling water may be bad for your health and having boiling water to clean and sterilize medical instruments may be good for your health  but the fact that water boils at 212 deg. F  is just a fact.

It might be established factually that a certain treatment is good for  your health,  but the statement describing the treatment is neither go\od nor bad in itself.  Also the treatment might not be of value no one suffers from the condition that the treatment cures or manages.  Facts by themselves are value free. It requires a valuer to assign a value to a fact. 

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