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But, Michael, Rand wasn't an angry atheist. I know the kind who are bitter and twisted about Christianity, pointing to all its evident flaws from back then til today, and I think they are largely missing the boat. The supernatural over reality? Dogma above reason? Submitting self-value to a higher deity? Check. But mysticism, anti-mind, and altruism, is the trio that has always been around. It's not limited to the religious (and from Christians came many accomplishments)  NewLeft secularists rate,  in modern times, much more blatantly corrosive in all departments, including sacrifice and power: "Mystics of muscle" are as "mystical" as any. And what do they produce? I like informing those atheists - "For all your contempt, you will miss them when they're gone.(Not that Christians  are going anywhere) Who else can hold together the values of a civilisation.(Not you gumptionless, self-less, mindless weaklings)." Obviously, Christians are under concerted attack from the Left-progressives-socialists who hypocritically and cravenly align themselves with anti-Western Islamists, while turning a blind eye to anti-Christian violence and destruction. More validation of Rand and her "Witch Doctor and Attila" needing each other and combining forces. I believe on principle Christians should be morally supported, not meekly looked on as they are sacrificed to any New World Order.

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6 hours ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

If bashing Christianity were that important to her style, Victor Hugo would not be someone she learned her own style from

Yikes. You realize, I hope, that Hugo's theme in "Notre Dame" was fatality (fate).

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1 hour ago, anthony said:

 I believe on principle Christians should be morally supported

A recent passage from my blog...

Baffles me how anyone can believe the absurdity of immaculate conception and virgin birth, resurrection of a dead man, and immortality bestowed by faith.

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Wolf,

I'm baffled by the big bang.

Lots of people have faith in it, though.

:) 

38 minutes ago, Wolf DeVoon said:

Yikes. You realize, I hope, that Hugo's theme in "Notre Dame" was fatality (fate).

And you do realize that predestination is a predominant theme in many denominations of Christianity...

What all that has to do with literary style, though, is baffling...

:) 

(Something tells me this topic is uncomfortable for you. :) )

Michael

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9 hours ago, Wolf DeVoon said:

A recent passage from my blog...

Baffles me how anyone can believe the absurdity of immaculate conception and virgin birth, resurrection of a dead man, and immortality bestowed by faith.

Right: well after the fact, everything is easy to fault. A little appreciation, Wolf. One way or other, everything we've inherited came via deists, theists or Christianity (Capitalism. Science. Novels ...)

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2 hours ago, anthony said:

Right: well after the fact, everything is easy to fault. A little appreciation, Wolf. One way or other, everything we've inherited came via deists, theists or Christianity (Capitalism. Science. Novels ...)

Well, since I was raised by wolves . . .

--Brant

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12 hours ago, Wolf DeVoon said:

A recent passage from my blog...

Baffles me how anyone can believe the absurdity of immaculate conception and virgin birth, resurrection of a dead man, and immortality bestowed by faith.

Since tens if not hundreds of millions do it baffles me how anyone can believe reason can overcome that.

Part of the answer, of course, is compartmentalization, something Rand never acknowledged or addressed. Her getting down to basics over-simplified the human organism. The reductionism was necessary but once into that binary hole she needed to climb out. Thus in her cosmology ideology triumphed over empiricism. Karl Marx made the same mistake.

--Brant

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10 hours ago, Brant Gaede said:

Since tens if not hundreds of millions do it baffles me how anyone can believe reason can overcome that.

Part of the answer, of course, is compartmentalization, something Rand never acknowledged or addressed. Her getting down to basics over-simplified the human organism. The reductionism was necessary but once into that binary hole she needed to climb out. Thus in her cosmology ideology triumphed over empiricism. Karl Marx made the same mistake.

Brant,

Can of worms time.

Right now I can't delve into making a case about the value and nature of mythology and religion in terms of human evolution (see Darwin's Cathedral: Evolution, Religion, and the Nature of Society by David Sloan Wilson for one scholar's quite reasonable presentation of that), so I will simply quote a few pertinent thoughts about religious stories and some tangential but related thoughts.

Let's just say that most people hold major religious events as coming from (or informed by) a realm different than everyday reality. Rod Sterling called it the "realm of the imagination." Christians call it Heaven and Hell. Either way, this different realm has been a concern of humans ever since recorded history. 

And even when there are odd happenings in the stories using only everyday reality as a standard, like the Virgin Birth, it's not pure 100% unadulterated everyday reality. It's a mixture with this other realm. There is always a mythic element to it--myth meets and mixes with physical reality so to speak.

That, to me, puts these stories in a different class of mental event that deserves more thought than simply sniffing in superiority and calling all of mankind stupid for believing in them.

I mean, one can do that if it rings one's ding-a-ling, but pointing at people and saying, "See how stupid religious people are? I'll never understand how they can believe all those crazy stories..." doesn't explain reality and, frankly, doesn't explain people. All it does is scratch a vanity itch.

It's like Person A asking Person B what the meaning of life is and Person B responds by complaining about the flavors of chewing gum available. Person B is totally clueless about the issues at stake, but highly interested in something that tastes good.

To use another analogy, a fish isn't aware of the water it swims in until there is no water. If the human mind were not constructed to swim in story, it would not have to create other stories (like the big bang) to replace the ancient ones when people begin to find them silly.

And, frankly, as a foundational story, the big bang is a piss-poor story. It does not come with the ability to be used as social glue, for instance. No one will get married or buried in its name. And that's just one shortcoming. There are a slew of them. (A foundational story helps integrate the different modules of our highly modular brains so we--as individual members of a species--can behave in a manner where we survive and reproduce with relative success.) 

If people wish to sever their own beliefs from ancient foundational stories (and I'm not saying they shouldn't), they at least need to replace such stories with something that fills in the human life gaps left over when the old stories are removed. 

For those who laugh at people's current beliefs in myths and religious stories, I have yet to hear a single merrymaker explain why religious foundational stories have survived ALL of human history. Just saying people are stupid is a piss-poor excuse for thinking about that issue.

Now a few quotes.

On 7/1/2017 at 8:08 AM, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Humans think in stories (or narratives or whatever you want to call a mental representation of things moving through time and space) and concepts (including language). Rand ignored the story part in her theory of concepts even though she was a master in actually making stories (good stories, too) and, oddly enough, used them constantly in her nonfiction, including in ITOE in its most theoretical moments.

If you want to know the truth, Rand spoke very little about human memory in her theory of concepts and that's a big hole, about as big as story.

I could--and probably will--write a whole book about this.

On 7/4/2017 at 10:08 AM, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

btw - Rand, in her notes, complained in frustration that we have to blast cosmology out of philosophy. If that isn't complaining about reality because it doesn't fit a principle or even fit human size, I don't know what is. I can find that quote if you like.

I just looked and did find it in her Journals. Quoting Ayn Rand:

Quote

June 19, 1958

“Cosmology” has to be thrown out of philosophy. When this is done, the conflict between “rationalism” and “empiricism” will be wiped out--or, rather, the error that permitted the nonsense of such a conflict will be wiped out.

What, apparently, has never been challenged and what I took as a self-evident challenge (which it isn’t) is Thales’ approach to philosophy, namely: the idea that philosophy has to discover the nature of the universe in cosmological terms. If Thales thought that everything is water, and the other pre-Socratics fought over whether it’s water and earth and fire, etc., then the empiricists were right in declaring that they would go by the evidence of observation, not by “rational” deduction—only then, of course, the whole issue and all its terms are [thoroughly confused]. The crux of the error here is in the word “nature.” I took Thales’ attempt to mean only the first attempt at, or groping toward, a unified view of knowledge and reality, i.e., an epistemological, not a metaphysical, attempt to establish the fact that things have natures.

Now I think that he meant, and all subsequent philosophers took it to mean, a metaphysical attempt to establish the literal nature of reality and to prove by philosophical means that everything is literally and physically made of water or that water is a kind of universal “stuff.” If so, then philosophy is worse than a useless science, because it usurps the domain of physics and proposes to solve the problems of physics by some non-scientific, and therefore mystical, means. On this kind of view of philosophy, it is logical that philosophy has dangled on the strings of physics ever since the Renaissance and that every new discovery of physics has blasted philosophy sky-high, such as, for instance, the discovery of the nature of color giving a traumatic shock to philosophers, from which they have not yet recovered. [AR is referring to the discovery that our perception of color depends on the nature of the light and the human visual system as well as on nature of the object, which led many philosophers to conclude that perception is subjective.]

In fact, this kind of view merely means: rationalizing from an arrested state of knowledge. Thus, if in Thales’ time the whole extent of physical knowledge consisted of distinguishing water from air and fire, he took this knowledge to be a final omniscience and decided on its basis that water was the primary metaphysical element. On this premise, every new step in physics has to mean a new metaphysics. The subsequent nonsense was not that empiricists rejected Thales’ approach, but that they took him (and Plato) to be “rationalists,” i.e., men who derived knowledge by deduction from some sort of “innate ideas,” and therefore the empiricists declared themselves to be anti-rationalists. They did not realize that the Thales-Plato school was merely a case of “arrested empiricists,” that is, men who “rationalized” on the ground of taking partial knowledge as omniscience.

Aristotle established the right metaphysics by establishing the law of identity—which was all that was necessary (plus the identification of the fact that only concretes exist). But he destroyed his metaphysics by his cosmology—by the whole nonsense of the “moving spheres,” “the immovable mover,” teleology, etc.

The real crux of this issue is that philosophy is primarily epistemology—the science of the means, the rules, and the methods of human knowledge. Epistemology is the base of all other sciences and one necessary for man because man is a being of volitional consciousness—a being who has to discover, not only the content of his knowledge, but also the means by which he is to acquire knowledge. Observe that all philosophers (except Aristotle) have been projecting their epistemologies into their metaphysics (or that their metaphysics were merely epistemological and psychological confessions). All the fantastic irrationalities of philosophical metaphysics have been the result of epistemological errors, fallacies or corruptions. “Existence exists” (or identity plus causality) is all there is to metaphysics. All the rest is epistemology.

Paraphrasing myself: Philosophy tell us only that things have natures, but what these natures are is the job of specific sciences. The rest of philosophy’s task is to tell us the rules by which to discover the specific natures.

Rand's metaphysics is essentially the axiomatic concepts. No stories of why and how things work. Just that things are and that things work. Done.

Notice her phrase: philosophy is primarily epistemology

This means that she has no response to the big questions of philosophy like: What is the meaning of life? Why do we have to die? Why is the universe so infinitely large and infinitely small at the same time while we are so limited in scope? And so on.

Rand did not even attempt to answer these questions. She essentially implied that people who ask these things are stupid to ask them. And if that thought bothers you to disagree, then let's just say she blanked out that people ask these questions and why they ask them.

How can a philosophy spread when it leaves out such a big chunk of the human soul? It's not like you can't observe people mulling these questions over in records in all societies throughout all history. 

I can't resist the following entry as a playful gotcha to Barbara. (I wonder what she would have thought about my current conclusions. :) ) At one time--I don't remember where and when, I think it was in her apartment, I mentioned to her that philosophy was like an instruction manual on how to use your mind. She had a fit on me. She said that philosophy dealt with the fundamental nature of the universe. Period. End of story.

But thus spoke Rand...

Quote

June 20, 1958

The philosophy which I now will have to present is, in essence, the “rules of thinking” which children should be taught in the proper society (which the Wet Nurse needed). It is fundamental epistemology—plus psychological “epistemology.” All the evils of philosophy have always been achieved via epistemology...

:) 

None of this has anything to do with writing techniques, but it's interesting as all get out--to me and I bet to many readers. That's the nature of discussion forums, I guess...

OL is OL.

:) 

Michael

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The world is full of competing religions many resorting to force if other means fail with any reason becoming rationalization.

This includes the religion of the left, the imbedded moral superiority of which is so deep and integrated that the not left can be run over and flattened at will.

This includes sundry genocides. Even the Nazis can be included with the left, but there was a problem: Hitler invaded Soviet Russia so the Nazis and fascists were thrown out of the left by the communists into the right and now advocates of freedom are described as fascists, racists, climate change deniers, etc. Businessmen are only good for selling the rope to hang them with, and, so, Trump drives them up the wall. He's blocking their main route to power and they have to get him out of the office the "deplorables" elected him to.

It doesn't matter if you are a shitty two-bit journalist as long as you serve la causa.

--Brant

 

 

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If you quote Ayn Rand's "Journals" you aren't quoting Ayn Rand. Her unedited work is secondary Rand and for scholars, if available to them. It's not available to the polloi. That said I'm not saying she didn't write that bit on cosmology.

--Brant

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2 hours ago, Brant Gaede said:

If you quote Ayn Rand's "Journals" you aren't quoting Ayn Rand.

Brant,

Rand is right, Rand is wrong,
Rand is right, Rand is wrong,
Let go of doubts,
Just sing along,
Rand is right, Rand is wrong...

:) 

Michael

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The gist of her screed comes down to the primacy of existence. Mysticism, primacy of consciousness: it is so because I feel it to be so (and I don't wish it to be so, therefore it isn't), is of course not limited to religion and faith - you find it in every sphere (politics, science, ethics and the arts, for just a few).

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3 hours ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Brant,

Rand is right, Rand is wrong,
Rand is right, Rand is wrong,
Let go of doubts,
Just sing along,
Rand is right, Rand is wrong...

:) 

Michael

I'd say mostly right--and in spades. 

--Brant

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19 minutes ago, Brant Gaede said:

I'd say mostly right--and in spades. 

Brant,

My point was that I was not discussing Rand right or wrong. 

In fact, no matter what gets discussed when the name Rand comes up, no matter what the nuance or insight or even folly is on the table, someone always takes the issue back to whether Rand was right or wrong, then people start discussing that instead of the issue. Then they start fighting over whether she was right or wrong. The issue becomes secondary when not forgotten.

:)

In AA when I was going to meetings way back when, it was a common occurrence to see a person punctuate his personal tragedies and attempts to figure out how to stop drinking and destroying his life with a call for everyone to obey the program (the 12 steps). Then he would emphasize that, start preaching and that would become his point, no longer his own witnessing about his experiences or his successes and failures to stay sober. In other words, AA is right and those who question it are playing with fire. Those who say it is wrong are damned. And if you don't believe it, he will talk about it until you get it.

:) 

(Many of the people like that I knew had Homeric relapses. Sporadic relapses with few and far in between, but Homeric when they hit... :) )

Michael

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What was published by Rand in her lifetime is primary for referencing her. What she wrote but didn't publish is secondary IF it's in the original form. Work edited to publication after her death is third tier at best and possibly much worse. I wouldn't trust ITOE unless it was the original printing.

Esthetically speaking Leonard Peikoff putting his introduction into AS was an obscenity. Morally speaking, not so much. But they're integrated so the fish stinks regardless.

--Brant

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1 hour ago, Brant Gaede said:

What was published by Rand in her lifetime is primary for referencing her. What she wrote but didn't publish is secondary IF it's in the original form. Work edited to publication after her death is third tier at best and possibly much worse. I wouldn't trust ITOE unless it was the original printing.

Rand was well on record in her mature years as holding the viewpoint on philosophy being mostly epistemology which is expressed in the Journals passage Michael quoted.

Ellen  

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12 hours ago, Ellen Stuttle said:

Rand was well on record in her mature years as holding the viewpoint on philosophy being mostly epistemology which is expressed in the Journals passage Michael quoted.

Ellen  

Not arguing the point, but on record where? ITOE?

--Brant

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Here's just a thought.

Rand constantly called her view of metaphysics "objective reality." She said this on her "standing on one foot" description of Objectivism and she said it often after that.

Another way of saying "objective reality" is reality that can be understood (or "grasped" to use a word she liked to use a lot for cognitive processes) by a rational mind. That means any state that cannot be grasped by a rational mind is not reality to her. And, to her, a rational mind is founded on sensory perception.

A different way of saying this is: if something doesn't exist in a form that humans can be aware of it and trace that awareness back to human sensation, it doesn't exist. Or this: objective reality is said to be independent of human beings, but can only be accepted to exist if the limitations of human awareness is the standard.

In other words, human rationality is baked into Rand's metaphysics (or Objectivist metaphysics or whatever one prefers to call it). And that, strictly speaking, is more epistemology than metaphysics.

My idea that human beings could be evolving a new sensory organ or awareness faculty is foreign to Rand's view as stated. I don't know if she would have found it compatible, though. It would probably depend on whether this new potential awareness faculty could be called "rational" or "objective." If it could be called rational or objective, I believe she would have gone for the possibility (like NB said about her acceptance of the possibility of an "underlying reality," which implies that, by being able to be named by a rational mind as a potential, it could eventually be grasped by one). If it had to be called anything else, or at least if that faculty worked in a mental state incompatible with the current evolution of how rationality works, I suspect, if she were presented with this possibility, she would have rejected it outright as nonsense. Maybe even called it evil. :) 

I, myself, don't know. No matter how much I contemplate this issue, I keep slamming up against the awareness limitations of human beings as a species, thus my own limitations (being that I am a human being, although some may disagree :) ). I can't get around the idea that it's impossible for an evolving creature to judge the outcome of its unknown future evolution.

I can accept the fact that there is a hell of a lot that I don't know and, at this stage of evolution, can't know. That gives me an urge to stretch, so to speak, to see what else is out there.

Shutting down the question of what else is out there, just like the other big questions in philosophy (why we have to die, etc.) doesn't do it for me. I can't not ask them. They come unbidden.

Michael

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3 hours ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

I don't know if she would have found it compatible, though.

Michael,

There's stuff relevant to your wonderings in the section captioned "Properties of the Ultimate Constituents" which starts on pg. 290 of the Expanded ITOE.

Sorry, I don't have time for doing quoting.

Ellen

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On 4/21/2019 at 8:04 PM, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

predestination is a predominant theme in many denominations of Christianity...

What all that has to do with literary style, though, is baffling...

Oh. Theme controls what I do. Not uncomfortable with any topic. Hard to imagine Hugo (and Rand) using pen and ink.

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On 4/22/2019 at 7:27 AM, Brant Gaede said:

Since tens if not hundreds of millions do it [believe in salvation by faith] baffles me how anyone can believe reason can overcome that.

Part of the answer, of course, is compartmentalization, something Rand never acknowledged or addressed. Her getting down to basics over-simplified the human organism. The reductionism was necessary but once into that binary hole she needed to climb out. Thus in her cosmology ideology triumphed over empiricism. Karl Marx made the same mistake.

--Brant

I think the early church was mystical, until it came to Aquinas. I read his two volume restatement of Aritotle's logic and thought about his defense of transubstantiation, that God could switch the "essence" of bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ, leaving the "accidents" of visible bread and visible wine unchanged, which echoed Aristotle's epistemology. I concluded that we all make tiny little mistakes. Rand fixed the problem with her Conceptual Common Denominator, etc.

Always nice to chat with you, my friend. What I really think is that Miss Rand was primarily a dramatist.

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12 minutes ago, Wolf DeVoon said:

Hard to imagine Hugo (and Rand) using pen and ink.

Wolf,

I'm not tracking. I don't know what you mean here.

Even seeing it as sarcasm or a quip, I don't grok what you mean.

2 minutes ago, Wolf DeVoon said:

What I really think is that Miss Rand was primarily a dramatist.

I fully agree. That is one of my main points in analyzing her writing style.

Michael

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3 minutes ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Wolf,

I'm not tracking. I don't know what you mean here.

Oh. Victor Hugo didn't have a typewriter. Ayn Rand didn't have a computer to edit on the fly. Both used pen and ink, which I think partly explains their style.

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Michael, 
This could be useful to you and to any who hadn't heard or forgotten the lecture.

The quest for "The one in the many". The "connectedness" of all things. An ultimate unity of all things in the universe: unity of metaphysics - AND - a corresponding unity of epistemology (conceptual abstractions) - which those Greeks from Thales on, were after. Breathtaking stuff.

You only need about the first 30 mins., from what is a good lecture by Peikoff, at which point he concludes how epistemologies split and have remained split (apart from Objectivism) into those broadly who are Pro "the One" and those Pro "the Many": Rationalism/Mysticism/God -vs-. Empiricism/skepticism.

 

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4 hours ago, anthony said:

You only need about the first 30 mins., from what is a good lecture by Peikoff...

Tony,

I started listening, then ran right into a brick wall at 1:57.

So sayeth The Peikoff:

Quote

History studies what was and philosophy studies, in essence, what ought to be.

Hmmmmm...

And here I thought, according to Rand (see here), philosophy was the study of the fundamental nature of the universe. Not what it ought to be, but what it is. 

"A is A," sayeth the wise lady. Not "A ought to be A."

:) 

Michael

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