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Michael Stuart Kelly

New Slant on Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal

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New Slant on Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal

Are you surprised this is in the Epistemology section?

It should be in Politics or the area devoted to Rand's works, right?

Well, it's in the right place.

I've been rereading Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal after a few decades. I swear, politics almosts seems like a subtext. This book is all about epistemology.

Some of it is more subtle than other parts, but here is an obvious example from "The Anatomy of Compromise" to show you what I mean. The words are Rand's and I don't know why she put part of them in quotes except maybe as a way to isolate the phrase as a definition. She doesn't say.

Quote

A principle is "a fundamental, primary, or general truth on which other truths depend." Thus a principle is an abstraction which subsumes a great number of concretes.

In other words (my words), a principle is the mental product of induction and is arrived at (i.e., abstracted) based on repeated observation. This is more important than it seems. If I am seeing in between the lines correctly, principles are the bases of concepts in Randian epistemology. 

For the record, there's the online page at The Ayn Rand Lexicon: Principles. But I actually stumbled across this quote rereading the book. (I even typed out the quote before checking the Lexicon. Dumb me. I could have copy/pasted. :) )

Notice, also, that to Rand a principle can be absolute or general. And a general truth allows for exceptions by definition.

It's been ages since I have picked up Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal. I'm enjoying it immensely this go around. It's much better than I remembered and as relevant as ever, even if some of the examples are now dated. And this discovery about her focus on epistemology in the book only amplifies the pleasure.

I'll probably add to this thread later with some more examples. There are lots of them.

Michael

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I have a question about a principle in Lasker's book 'Manual of Chess'.

Lasker was world chess champion 1894 - 1921 (27 years). He was also a mathematician and a philosopher. He was known as the philosopher who played chess. He was a great admirer of Steinitz, the man he beat for the world title and his book 'Manual of Chess' is largely a tribute to Steinitz.  Steinitz created a theory of chess strategy and held the title for 28 years (1866 - 1894) (if we ignore Morphy after he quit). The theory of Steinitz was ridiculed in his time but near the end of his reign career as world champion he was revered as a demigod and the chess world was shocked when Lasker beat him in 1894. Lasker, a professional philosopher, understood Steinitz's theory better than Steinitz did and developed it further. Lasker developed the theory beyond chess, to all forms of struggle -- war, business, life. With Lasker it was not merely a theory of strategy in chess but a theory of struggle and it applied to a thousand and one games that have been or could be invented and to every activity directed toward meaning and purpose and governed by rules. Lasker wrote: "I who vanquished him must see to it that he is avenged."  (Steinitz was ridiculed because of his theory.)

In 'Manual of Chess' Lasker states the following principle:  Superior force wins. (In chess superior force means more material, more mobility, etc) Then he goes into a discussion about where this principle comes from and asks whether this principle comes from experience. He answers in the negative; experience seems to often contradict this principle. He then makes an astonishing statement:  We are determined with might and main to interpret experience in the light of this principle no matter how it turns out. He concludes that superior force wins, provided we take into account every kind of force, physical force, intellectual force, moral force.

My question is:

What the hell kind of ass backwards epistemology is this?

 

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8 hours ago, jts said:

 

8 hours ago, jts said:

My question is:

What the hell kind of ass backwards epistemology is this?

 

For him, it worked.

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15 hours ago, jts said:

I have a question about a principle in Lasker's book 'Manual of Chess'.

Jerry,

My first question is what does this have to do with Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal? You did read the title of the thread, didn't you? And you did read the opening post, didn't you?

I'll leave other questions be about this...

But there is something else that is seriously out of whack. You see, I used to be deep into chess. I read and studied all the books I could get my hands on. I did tournaments at the São Paulo Chess Club (I was in the upper third). I studied individual games. It was a lot of fun and I did it because I liked it.

Then I see you write the following:

15 hours ago, jts said:

Lasker developed the theory beyond chess, to all forms of struggle -- war, business, life. With Lasker it was not merely a theory of strategy in chess but a theory of struggle and it applied to a thousand and one games that have been or could be invented and to every activity directed toward meaning and purpose and governed by rules.

What a crock of misleading oversimplification. If you are going to represent the thinking of someone, you need to do it correctly--that is if you want to be taken seriously. Lasker didn't think of chess as a struggle in the broad meaning of the term. He thought of it as a fight between two opponents. A human fight, at that. 

Oh, he wrote a book called Struggle, but if you bother to read it, you will see he is talking about combat and contests, not about a struggle, like, to make a living or learn a new skill or live a healthy life or find someone to love and so on. His use of the word "struggle" involved two or more adversaries. And all his principles involved a fight, not creating something new or achieving goals in general. The only goal that interested him was beating an opponent. Notice that when he meandered through discussions of nature, religion, etc., there were always opponents trying to beat each other. 

I got the following Lasker quote off the Internet since I left all my chess books in Brazil. (Nah... that's a bit misleading. I did leave them in Brazil, but I first sold them to feed my drug habit. This was back when I was an addict. :) ) I'm giving it to underscore the concept.

The quote is from Common Sense in Chess, which I read probably three times during my chess phase:

Quote

“By some ardent enthusiasts Chess has been elevated into a science or an art. It is neither; but its principal characteristic seems to be—what human nature mostly delights in—a fight.”

On the positive side, I learned the difference between tactics and strategy from Lasker. I once wrote about this on the old SoloHQ and it was like giving caviar to a pig. They wouldn't eat it. They didn't know, didn't want to know, and didn't like those who did know. And, what's more, to be fair to your glomming onto Lasker's words and not concepts, I have found this division useful in general goals, not just fights. Some of his principles actually do extend beyond his "contest" frame. So the conceptual misunderstanding is not all your fault.

But before you blast Lasker's epistemology, it might be a good idea to first try to understand what he means. In other words, go for the concept, not just play gotcha with words.

As to the Lasker quote you gave, I would need to read it in context before I could comment on it intelligently. It's been years since I've read his Manual. My gut tells me this was a half-assed way of saying he is going to beat those who disagree with him in some kind of contest of ideas. And any small victories they may have along the way will not sway him from his desire to win. But I can't be sure without rereading the before and after.

Anyway, back to Rand...

If you want to do a chess thread here in epistemology, go for it.

Michael

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I read Botvinnik's  "On Openings" in 1960. That's why my brother couldn't beat me. Except for that we were both lousy.

--Brant

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2 hours ago, Brant Gaede said:

I read Botvinnik's  "On Openings" in 1960. That's why my brother couldn't beat me. Except for that we were both lousy.

--Brant

Why not take up a Real Game.  Learn Go. 

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The reason why I started on chess in this thread is the first post seemed to be about principles. There were chess philosophers who tried to reduce chess to principles -- Steinitz, Tarrasch, Nimzovich -- but it probably can't be done.

 

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2 hours ago, BaalChatzaf said:

Why not take up a Real Game.  Learn Go. 

As inferior as chess is to go in mathematical complexity, no human and no chess engine has mastered chess. Not even Stockfish.

 

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I've considered rereading it but I'm not sure it's worth my time.

 

How relevant is it to the newly emerged segment of our particular instance of capitalism, the IT sector?  A major difference between IT and other sectors is that once a digital product is created, reproducing it is trivial and essentially free.  This is not true of the industries referred to in Atlas Shrugged.

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5 hours ago, RobinReborn said:

I've considered rereading it but I'm not sure it's worth my time.

 

How relevant is it to the newly emerged segment of our particular instance of capitalism, the IT sector?  A major difference between IT and other sectors is that once a digital product is created, reproducing it is trivial and essentially free.  This is not true of the industries referred to in Atlas Shrugged.

Think in principles.

--Brant

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