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See Leonard Peikoff's course on Objectivist Epistemology. What is the proper name of the course?

That course outlines Aristotle's, Ayn Rand's, and Leonard Peikoff's theory of knowledge, or epistemology, including logic, incorrect ideas, fallacies, definitions, hierarchy of concepts, and more.

Peikoff's course is one of the best courses in philosophy ever written.

Historians of logic may be interested to know that Eudoxus', author of his "Famous Theory of Equiproportionality", demonstrated the relationships of geometrical concepts and he provided the proofs. We know the short form of one of Eudoxus' statements to be  [  A=B:B=C:A=C, from the Egyptian priests, and the Greek geometers, Thales, Pythagoras, and Eudoxus .]  Eudoxus worked with the geometrical identities, relationships and lengths of lines [all called "magnitudes" in Greek in the day, meaning what we today would term 'scientific concepts' ]. Other types of concepts, for example, biological or ethical concepts were not in Eudoxus' proofs, only geometrical science concepts.

Aristotle, later created his hierarchical theory of concepts, and refined the system of definitions, e.g., accurately identifying the facts of existents with genus and differentia definitions. Aristotle's biological concepts, for example, could be or were substituted for, or integrated with, Eudoxus' geometry concepts. What Aristotle did was a major innovation in the history of ideas, and that was the use of correct concepts that properly identified the facts of existence and that were provable. When applied to Eudoxus' "Theory of Equiproportionality", Aristotle's hierarchical concepts created a properly systematized and science of logic that dealt with all types of concepts. Aristotle gave us the system of provable thought that may be all too simply stated;  Equiproportionality times hierarchical definitions of concepts equals the science of Logic.     RALPH HERTLE   Text copied over to O.L from a different location.

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Regarding Pythagoras' ideas;

Leonard Peikoff in his lecture on Pythagoras quotes the ancient teacher / geometer to say, "The universe is made of numbers." Pythagoras' statement when read in the Ancient Greek, that I can't quote right here, meant that the universe is made of "magnitudes". The Greek word "magnitude" meant to the Ancient Greek geometers, what we would read to be, "scientific concept." In one sense the 'Motion' of a thing could be used to name an entity's existence of a certain type. Pythagoras also meant that one special case of a scientific concept is number, and that other special cases are possible in geometry. To the geometers we may read that some magnitudes may be "all existents taken together", or "Motion", being a universal statement; or straight lines or even proofs of statements, being special cases of identities, properties, or functionings.  Universals and particulars.

Later mathematicians mis-translated "magnitude" to mean "measurement" and they even limited all "magnitudes" to be "number". Geometry to the Ancient Greek Geometers meant 'all science', and they narrowed the context in order to discuss selected classes of concepts or entities.

If you stay with the term "magnitudes" to mean "scientific concepts", or, "scientific principles", the mathematical sub-science of Ancient Greek geometry will make a lot more sense.

The so-called "celestial spheres" meant that certain objects in the sky function insofar as their existences, properties and rectilinear motions [meaning here, strictly, "particular properties and functionings"]. The term, "Motions", meaning the universal concept, "Existents", and "Rectilinear Motions" being particular cases or properties, for instance, straight lines. Objects in the sky were seen to have "Motion", meaning 'existence', and also "rectilinear motions", meaning having 'unique properties according to the contexts of their identities'. Each "Celestial Sphere" had a property, each had "Motion" and each "Sphere" described the functionings of entities that were particularly identified by their "Rectilinar Motions". There were no "spheres"; out there, there were only the "magnitudes" that could be used to identify the observed "things" selected. A sphere could have the Sun in it, and that existed with certain properties or functioned in accordance with certain principles. Mars had its own sphere, existence, unique properties and principles of operation. The "Spheres" were magnitudes and that helped to teach the existence, properties. and functions of entire systems of identities for celestial beings, or other things.  

To re-construct one of Pythagoras' lectures, find that the universe is a rich realm of concepts, and not just linear figures and measurements. 

Accurate translations are needed to keep one's ideas about Pythagoras' ideas on the straight and narrow, and that accuracy of identification is necessary in order to get to the discoveries of "Eudoxus" "Famous Theory of Equiproportionality" and Aristotle's systematization of the principles of Logic, for example. 

Ralph Hertle

 

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3 hours ago, HERTLE said:

Pythagoras' statement when read in the Ancient Greek, that I can't quote right here, meant that the universe is made of "magnitudes".

 

3 hours ago, HERTLE said:

If you stay with the term "magnitudes" to mean "scientific concepts", or, "scientific principles", the mathematical sub-science of Ancient Greek geometry will make a lot more sense.

 

I'm not sure about making "a lot more" sense.

 

Conceptually, it is equally incorrect to claim that the universe, i.e. each and every entity which exists, is made of  "number", "magnitudes", and "scientific concepts" or "scientific principles".

Reification of conceptual content as external entities is the error.  Principles, quantity, magnitude, are concepts by which we conceive of, understand, and predict what we observe about entities in existence, they do not literally make up entities.

 

Things are no more "scientific principles" than they are "numbers". 

 

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9 hours ago, HERTLE said:

Peikoff's course is one of the best courses in philosophy ever written.

Ralph,

This is not jousting or snark. How many written courses in philosophy are you familiar with?

My question comes from my "cognitive before normative" approach in thinking. Before I use superlatives and other forms of evaluation, I try to identify correctly what I am talking about. 

If you are going to compare Peikoff's course against all the other courses out there and declare his as one of the best, shouldn't you know what the other courses are like? At least a few of them? If not, what is your standard for evaluating?

Serious question.

Michael

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4 hours ago, Strictlylogical said:

Conceptually, it is equally incorrect to claim that the universe, i.e. each and every entity which exists, is made of  "number", "magnitudes", and "scientific concepts" or "scientific principles".

Reification of conceptual content as external entities is the error.  Principles, quantity, magnitude, are concepts by which we conceive of, understand, and predict what we observe about entities in existence, they do not literally make up entities.

 

Things are no more "scientific principles" than they are "numbers".

SL,

This might be a quibble, but every time I see a discussion like this, I always see a presumption that entities, or even external existents are one thing and the human mind is another.

Without going deep into a semantical discussion of entities and other such, I came to my own conclusion that the human mind is not apart from the universe nor is it made up of stuff that is different than the universe. I consider myself as a part of the universe, not apart from the universe.

That means, if a principle (scientific or otherwise) is conceived in the mind, there is some kind of organization in the universe that it corresponds to--and human beings are part of it. I believe a conception is a reflection or different format of what exists, not something different than what exists. 

Like I imply, this is a semantical thing that can go on forever in circles, but the basic big picture view falls into two camps from what I have seen and studied up to now. Either the mind is made up of the same thing as the rest of the universe, or it is not. I fall among those who think it is.

I also believe the human mind does not detect all there is to the universe as yet, and maybe never will, since (from what I have observed) I am convinced that evolution exists, which means human beings are still evolving.

When you say, "Reification of conceptual content as external entities is the error," I agree if we are talking about pretending a thought is an object outside the mind. But I disagree if that means a thought has no connection to the underlying structure of how objects exist. I hold that the organizing structure that governs objects outside the mind is the same organizing structure that governs the mind. That's why correspondence works.

Michael

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1 hour ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Either the mind is made up of the same thing as the rest of the universe, or it is not.

"What is mind? No matter. What is matter? Never mind." - Homer Simpson

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5 hours ago, Strictlylogical said:

Reification of conceptual content

From Britannica:

Reification . . . the treatment of something abstract as a material or concrete thing.

end quote

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13 hours ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

SL,

This might be a quibble, but every time I see a discussion like this, I always see a presumption that entities, or even external existents are one thing and the human mind is another.

Without going deep into a semantical discussion of entities and other such, I came to my own conclusion that the human mind is not apart from the universe nor is it made up of stuff that is different than the universe. I consider myself as a part of the universe, not apart from the universe.

That means, if a principle (scientific or otherwise) is conceived in the mind, there is some kind of organization in the universe that it corresponds to--and human beings are part of it. I believe a conception is a reflection or different format of what exists, not something different than what exists. 

Like I imply, this is a semantical thing that can go on forever in circles, but the basic big picture view falls into two camps from what I have seen and studied up to now. Either the mind is made up of the same thing as the rest of the universe, or it is not. I fall among those who think it is.

I also believe the human mind does not detect all there is to the universe as yet, and maybe never will, since (from what I have observed) I am convinced that evolution exists, which means human beings are still evolving.

When you say, "Reification of conceptual content as external entities is the error," I agree if we are talking about pretending a thought is an object outside the mind. But I disagree if that means a thought has no connection to the underlying structure of how objects exist. I hold that the organizing structure that governs objects outside the mind is the same organizing structure that governs the mind. That's why correspondence works.

Michael

I understand your fear of such a presumption, I have encountered others who implicitly hold a false dichotomy (bordering on mystical) between mind and ... let us call it "nature".

Without going too much into a discussion, I am of the view that mind is what a brain does and is.  There is no mystical stuff which is somehow more than the sum of the parts and "emerges" like a infant ghost from the womb of brain to somehow stand outside and beyond reality... mind is, is of, and is by, the natural complex system functioning in reality, which is the human nervous system and brain.  Conceptualization and the formation of mental concepts are tied to reality through perception and causation.

 

My pointing out reification is NOT to cleave the universe in twain, inside and outside, mind and matter... consciousness IS embedded here, in natural reality, minds are functioning complex natural system, they are capable of forming and holding concepts (which means brains structured and functioning in certain complex and repeatable ways) which correspond, in noncontradictory and useful ways, to reality due to their origins being caused in and by reality. 

We observe that reality is not some arbitrary chaos, existents have identity, and behave lawfully, but "the laws" we deduce are not edicts written in some intrinsic fabric of space-time, imposed upon compliant and eager actors who might otherwise have been free to do anything... such would be fanciful projections of our own psyches. 

 

Things simply are what they are, specifically, and behave accordingly, simply because they cannot be what they are not, and cannot do what is not in accordance with what they are.

 

The claim that somehow all things (shoes and ships - and sealing wax - cabbages and kings) including everything which is not part of a mind, are "made" of concepts such as "numbers", "magnitudes", "principles" (mental contents which we use to understand and think about everything), is quite simply erroneous, and confuses and/or conflates the referents of conceptualization with the concepts themselves.

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3 hours ago, Strictlylogical said:

Without going too much into a discussion, I am of the view that mind is what a brain does and is.  There is no mystical stuff which is somehow more than the sum of the parts and "emerges" like a infant ghost from the womb of brain to somehow stand outside and beyond reality... mind is, is of, and is by, the natural complex system functioning in reality, which is the human nervous system and brain. 

SL,

This is where I hit the brick wall. The magical "emergence" just emerged. :) 

Something that never existed--that was not part of the universe--suddenly comes into existence. Like magic. And what is it? Only the most important thing to human awareness, that is, human awareness itself.

It's like a thought from Terrence McKenna: Science says give us just one free miracle and we will explain the rest.

:)

Rand herself had a name for that miracle. She called it "the given." Consciousness to her did not emerge. It is axiomatic--represented by one of the big three axiomatic concepts. 

There was a time in the past when I was absolutely certain of the things I did not know--and could not know. (Like the proposition that the universe is finite, the big bang, that life emerged from inanimate matter, the absoluteness of the second law of thermodynamics, and things like that.)

Now, in relation to those things, the only thing I am certain of is that I need more reach than human size and limitations provide to be able to be certain of those things. I don't have the equipment to observe them or measure them. I can only speculate and infer from what I can observe and measure.

Within what is possible to human limitations, I can be certain of a lot. But outside, I can't. 

It's funny, but I became a lot more serene once I realized that. 

Michael

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11 hours ago, Strictlylogical said:

I understand your fear of such a presumption, I have encountered others who implicitly hold a false dichotomy (bordering on mystical) between mind and ... let us call it "nature".

Without going too much into a discussion, I am of the view that mind is what a brain does and is.  There is no mystical stuff which is somehow more than the sum of the parts and "emerges" like a infant ghost from the womb of brain to somehow stand outside and beyond reality... mind is, is of, and is by, the natural complex system functioning in reality, which is the human nervous system and brain.  Conceptualization and the formation of mental concepts are tied to reality through perception and causation.

 

My pointing out reification is NOT to cleave the universe in twain, inside and outside, mind and matter... consciousness IS embedded here, in natural reality, minds are functioning complex natural system, they are capable of forming and holding concepts (which means brains structured and functioning in certain complex and repeatable ways) which correspond, in noncontradictory and useful ways, to reality due to their origins being caused in and by reality. 

We observe that reality is not some arbitrary chaos, existents have identity, and behave lawfully, but "the laws" we deduce are not edicts written in some intrinsic fabric of space-time, imposed upon compliant and eager actors who might otherwise have been free to do anything... such would be fanciful projections of our own psyches. 

 

Things simply are what they are, specifically, and behave accordingly, simply because they cannot be what they are not, and cannot do what is not in accordance with what they are.

 

The claim that somehow all things (shoes and ships - and sealing wax - cabbages and kings) including everything which is not part of a mind, are "made" of concepts such as "numbers", "magnitudes", "principles" (mental contents which we use to understand and think about everything), is quite simply erroneous, and confuses and/or conflates the referents of conceptualization with the concepts themselves.

SL, This is immaculately thought and composed. Thanks. I can't see a problem with emergence, not unless it's considered as an instantaneous and one-off event. Then, yes, one could conclude many think there's some mystical stuff going on. A Divine Spark or something. Or, non-mystically - emergence from zero awareness to a conceptual mind. Surely, as we know, everything biological 'emerged' or developed from something prior to it, no less the brain and nervous system. That process is still ongoing, but like all things evolving, adapting and mutating, takes aeons of time - and there's no reason to believe it has been or will have to be an even-paced evolution. I don't recall the details, but wasn't there a speedy leap in the human brain, that took ¬only¬ 100,000 years? A blink of the eye in evolutionary terms.

Where I think there is some ambiguity is with the well-used "more than the sum of its parts". Basically, there is nothing "more" (nothing supra-natural) we agree. All the "parts" had to be present and correct for a human brain to function as it is known to do. But, effectively, the functioning aggregate of all of the parts has far, far more potent efficiency than that of any one of them, alone. Or: one can't find the mind in any part of the brain, simply, the entirety is what explains the acts of consciousness. That's my simple take on "more".

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8 hours ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

SL,

This is where I hit the brick wall. The magical "emergence" just emerged. :) 

Something that never existed--that was not part of the universe--suddenly comes into existence. Like magic. And what is it? Only the most important thing to human awareness, that is, human awareness itself.

It's like a thought from Terrence McKenna: Science says give us just one free miracle and we will explain the rest.

:)

Rand herself had a name for that miracle. She called it "the given." Consciousness to her did not emerge. It is axiomatic--represented by one of the big three axiomatic concepts. 

There was a time in the past when I was absolutely certain of the things I did not know--and could not know. (Like the proposition that the universe is finite, the big bang, that life emerged from inanimate matter, the absoluteness of the second law of thermodynamics, and things like that.)

Now, in relation to those things, the only thing I am certain of is that I need more reach than human size and limitations provide to be able to be certain of those things. I don't have the equipment to observe them or measure them. I can only speculate and infer from what I can observe and measure.

Within what is possible to human limitations, I can be certain of a lot. But outside, I can't. 

It's funny, but I became a lot more serene once I realized that. 

Michael

You use the words “magic” and “miracle” to designate consciousness. Why?  

I assume you take “mind” to be natural and not supernatural... now surely that one is a mystery in nature born of our lack of knowledge but there is no need to invoke shades of mysticism to color our amazement and wonder.  We still have much to learn and reality is a stunning thing to get to know.

Newness does not quite invoke “miracle” or “magic”, causation has been making firsts since the beginning of time, like the first supernova or the first heavy elements.  True all new things had not literally existed prior, in all their glory, but the potentials exhibited or possessed by the natures of the constituent things that eventually would come together to form those new things were always there “inherent” in the identity of those constituent things.

 

I take well your observation that we have much to learn about the nature of consciousness, my main point is that it is not supernatural.  

Given enough time, higher order complexities exhibiting consciousness may be the most natural and ubiquitous outcome in the universe.   But I speculate.

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1 hour ago, anthony said:

SL, This is immaculately thought and composed. Thanks. I can't see a problem with emergence, not unless it's considered as an instantaneous and one-off event. Then, yes, one could conclude many think there's some mystical stuff going on. A Divine Spark or something. Or, non-mystically - emergence from zero awareness to a conceptual mind. Surely, as we know, everything biological 'emerged' or developed from something prior to it, no less the brain and nervous system. That process is still ongoing, but like all things evolving, adapting and mutating, takes aeons of time - and there's no reason to believe it has been or will have to be an even-paced evolution. I don't recall the details, but wasn't there a speedy leap in the human brain, that took ¬only¬ 100,000 years? A blink of the eye in evolutionary terms.

Where I think there is some ambiguity is with the well-used "more than the sum of its parts". Basically, there is nothing "more" (nothing supra-natural) we agree. All the "parts" had to be present and correct for a human brain to function as it is known to do. But, effectively, the functioning aggregate of all of the parts has far, far more potent efficiency than that of any one of them, alone. Or: one can't find the mind in any part of the brain, simply, the entirety is what explains the acts of consciousness. That's my simple take on "more".

Thank you for the compliment.

I think you are right, “the entirety” does explain the acts of consciousness... (although we know not of the how and the details) but that is no less and no more than what a brain is and does.

I begin to think the “quantitative” invocation of “more” in our minds when we ponder the imponderable concept of“mind”, is a psychological intuition.  A feeling simply born of an amazement which arises due to an erroneous implicit assumption: an assumption that a living brain being and doing “should” amount to less... less than what a living brain eminently and evidently, undeniably and indentically, actually does amount to...

a conscious complex natural system.

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14 hours ago, Strictlylogical said:

You use the words “magic” and “miracle” to designate consciousness. Why?  

SL,

Because all attempts to explain the existence of consciousness (and of existence itself, for that matter) are basically rationalizations, attempts to fit it into human control like a snake eating its own tail. And people who are certain about things humans can't know ignore that fact and call any statement to the contrary "a miracle" or "supernatural" in order to denigrate it, meaning certain things to them do not exist as they observe, but instead these things exist as how they imagine they exist.

If McKenna had said, science says give us just one free thing as a starting point so we can ignore it, and we will explain the rest, he would have been saying the same thing as when he used the word "miracle." He was not talking about God but instead about the limitations of what humans are capable of knowing for certain.

Just because humans don't perceive something, that does not mean that something does not exist.

(I have written elsewhere that I believe it plausible humans are evolving a new sense organ to perceive a part of reality they did not perceive before. And the glimpses from that process are the reason there is such similarity in accounts of certain experiences across many different times and cultures.)

Nathaniel Branden talked about this when he talked to Rand about the possibility of an "underlying reality." And she accepted this might be the case.

Rather than accepting that humans are part of the universe, that the universe has primacy, these rationalizations always boil down to the universe being part of humans with human primacy over it. That would mean if humans cease to exist, the universe would, too. And that's silly. But that inevitable outcome when taken to the end of the logical chain always gets ignored in the rationalizations.

These rationalizations are based on two assumptions (among others).

1. Humans know--and are equipped (with sense organs, for instance) to know--all there is to know about the fundamental nature of the universe. If humans don't (or better, can't) perceive something fundamental, it doesn't exist.

That's one hell of a presupposition. I hold those who are certain about this are proposing faith in its purest form.

2. The universe is not an existent, but instead a process of creating existents. Or better, the universe exists but doesn't exist at the same time. It, which doesn't exist, creates itself, which does. 

Those who hold this never put it in these words, but what I just said is a correct description of what they propose. And that's another hell of a presupposition that needs faith rather than reason to arrive at certainty.

14 hours ago, Strictlylogical said:

I take well your observation that we have much to learn about the nature of consciousness, my main point is that it is not supernatural.  

I'm fine with Rand's "the given." You have not made any comment about that, but, if you look at what she means about consciousness being axiomatic and what I said (which is essentially the same thing in different words), when you imply I'm talking about the supernatural, you also imply her position means "supernatural" if taken at face value.

Do you remember her "ostensive definition"? 

She waved her arm around and said, "I mean this."

:) 

She did not say causality created it.

Ditto for consciousness.

Granted, you did say all new things that "emerge" already existed in some form (you used the word "inherent"). But how do you know that?

You can't.

That is, you can't without rationalizing. You have to use propositions that do not boil down to observation in the end, then you have to treat those propositions as a replacement for perception.

That's the brick wall.

Were you or any other human around when consciousness did not exist? How do you even know there was a time it did not exist? Oh, that's easy. We just slap the word "inherent" on the problem. Voila. It goes away. But how do you know that inherent thing? Well, I just do. :) 

For myself, I am certain species, life forms, including humans, are evolving. I can't say the same for the universe itself. Why? I can observe the evolution of species, at least genetic mutations. I cannot observe the universe evolving. I can only make up a story about that, lade it with math about a few existents (which can be observed) and presuppositions about what that means, but ultimately I can only extrapolate and tell a story about my math and presuppositions, not about something we call the universe that is concrete that I can observe evolving.

I don't need to be certain about the universe evolving or not. I can't observe it. 

Ditto for how consciousness came about, or always was...

On a relevant tangent, where Rand diverged from Aristotle claiming that final causation does not exist, I diverge from her. How did she know final causation does not exist? She couldn't.

For that position, she used a process I call deducing reality from principle. She did that at times. Some of the people in O-Land go apeshit with this process. :) 

To me, it's far more correct to say, "I don't know," about things I don't know than say, "I do know."

Michael

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5 hours ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Just because humans don't perceive something, that does not mean that something does not exist.

Wrong. "If the glove doesn't fit, you must acquit."

😉
(I kid, I kid...)

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Msk wrote, “For myself, I am certain species, life forms, including humans, are evolving. I can't say the same for the universe itself. Why? I can observe the evolution of species, at least genetic mutations.

The literary genre of Science Fiction has used the plot line / notion of deliberate genetic manipulation to create superior human beings, and then the “superiors” create even more superior offspring . . . and then there is a war between the factions. I don’t think that is farfetched.

There have been suspicions, probably going to times before the Nazi’s, where natural selection becomes structured selection, and evolution is directed towards a superior race. Within the last twenty years I have heard speculation that the Chinese are doing the gene research that “The West” might not contemplate.

And there is constant research everywhere to rid the gene pool of the causes of disease and malfunctions in the human race. “To boldly go where no one has gone before.” Peter  

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13 minutes ago, Peter said:

Msk wrote, “For myself, I am certain species, life forms, including humans, are evolving. I can't say the same for the universe itself. Why? I can observe the evolution of species, at least genetic mutations.

The literary genre of Science Fiction has used the plot line / notion of deliberate genetic manipulation to create superior human beings, and then the “superiors” create even more superior offspring . . . and then there is a war between the factions. I don’t think that is farfetched.

There have been suspicions, probably going to times before the Nazi’s, where natural selection becomes structured selection, and evolution is directed towards a superior race. Within the last twenty years I have heard speculation that the Chinese are doing the gene research that “The West” might not contemplate.

And there is constant research everywhere to rid the gene pool of the causes of disease and malfunctions in the human race. “To boldly go where no one has gone before.” Peter  

Peter,

Human beings have improved plenty on their own without a technocratic ruling class engineering eugenics and forcing it on everyone.

Yet the assholes who want to rule are always dazzled by the thrill of eugenics. And they kill to make it happen. Just so long as the duds that, according to them, have to be eliminated are not among themselves...

An idiot who thinks he or she can force biological improvement on everyone is the snake eating its own tail mentality. The idiot is an agent. The agent pronounces bullshit in the third person. The idiot agent pretends the bullshit does not apply to him or her, nor entails the agent's inherent limitations, but instead is "science."

And the piles of corpses keep piling up when shit finally goes bad.

Eugenicists can pretend they have primacy over reality. But reality always extracts a high price for being disrespected. The loss of human life attributable to eugenics is incalculable. The human race would have far, far, far fewer bodies dead before their time if it killed off eugenicists rather than let them run their experiments on others by force and/or deception, which they always do.

Michael

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Michael wrote: Human beings have improved plenty on their own without a technocratic ruling class engineering eugenics and forcing it on everyone. end quote

Thanks Michael. I also see the evil in Eugenics. But, could gene changes do away with *human evil* or is evil a part of humanity’s social interactions and essence? My other concern is that “civilization” may be stopping natural evolution. Peter

Quoted from a letter written just after 9/11, below which might also interest Ellen Stuttle. “Joe also makes a recommendation:  "BTW, since Dr. Sciabarra brought up Jung, Jung has a book called JUNG ON EVIL, which is interesting in this context, since he is using WW2 and the Nazi's as his focal point, and we are using Sept. 11th."

From: Chris Matthew Sciabarra To: Atlantis* <atlantis Subject: ATL: The Question of Evil Date: Sat, 01 Dec 2001 10:59:16 -0500. I would like to raise an interesting issue to get some feedback from my fellow Atlanteans. Having just lived through one of the most evil acts of the early 21st century---the destruction of the WTC, of innocent people's lives and the downtown NYC skyline I hold so dear---I began to question Ayn Rand's belief in the so-called "impotency" of evil.

Yes, yes, I know:  Rand said that evil is impotent because it does not have the power to create, only the power to destroy, and this is why it is ESSENTIALLY impotent.  It is parasitic upon the good, and it can only win through the default of the good, or the sanction of the victims it requires (which means that sometimes we give, unwittingly, the "ammo" to our exploiters). Nevertheless, I think I have seen the actual POTENCY of evil among the broken steel, glass and body parts at Ground Zero in downtown Manhattan.  And I've also seen its potency in a rather personal way over the last few months.

As an indirect result of the WTC tragedy, a man I know went out of his way to deceptively and viciously hurt me and a dear friend of mine.  His actions caused a lot of anguish and grief at a particularly difficult time in my life.  Without getting into all the personal details---which are irrelevant in this context---let me just say that, having witnessed all this death and destruction, and having experienced profoundly personal losses over the past several months, I have seen how essentially evil actions can cause a series of ripple effects that give full reign to the ability of the irrational to poison everything in its wake.

So, I ask myself:  Doesn't this prove the potency of evil?  I look at the rubble in lower Manhattan and the rubble left by this one aforementioned malicious person, and it looks like evil is pretty potent to me.  And even if you take a stand against it, screaming at the top of your lungs for justice, I have discovered that you cannot always erase the deleterious consequences (both intended and unintended) of another person's evil actions.  In fact, sometimes, if you try to CONSTRUCT your way out of an injustice, like "The Fugitive's" Dr. Richard Kimble, you might make things a bit worse for yourself in the short-run.  It starts to feel like an Existentialist universe where there is "No Exit."  (I have grasped this point personally over the past few months, but I think it is applicable even to the history of American foreign policy.  That's another story.)

But here's another, perhaps more important, issue, with psychological and ethical dimensions, that might strike at the heart of Rand's egoism: A person who commits an evil action, and who seems totally unrepentant, like a sociopath, and who thinks he is serving some kind of inner self-interest, may never actually PAY for those evil actions.  Such people seem totally devoid of conscience and of shame; they perform "immoral" actions, but they actually seem to be "amoral," that is, devoid of a moral compass.

I wonder, of course, how people who go out of their way to hurt others are able to look themselves in the mirror.  Rand might say that such people really aren't happy, that their pursuit of negative values is entirely OTHER-oriented, not SELF-oriented, because they require victims.  But it seems to me that people like this often continue to lead their lives as before, rarely getting into trouble, and always making trouble for those in their environment. Many of these people seem to live to ripe old ages.  They're just miserable SOBs to their fellow men and women.

So, if there's no heaven and no hell, no Judgment Day, at what point do such miserable people pay a price? Do they ever pay the price for their own evil actions?  Or do they continue to act with impunity, wreaking havoc, and destroying the good around them, feasting upon the weaknesses of those they attack---those who carry forth, sometimes inadvertently, the full effects of the assault on all that is good and decent?

And if such evil people are convinced of the moral VIRTUE of their actions, thus rationalizing and justifying their destructiveness---like those terrorists who brought down the Twin Towers---how can one ever minimize the very potent consequences of such behavior, in which the suicidal zealot takes down, with him, a few thousand, or a few million, innocent lives?  (Then again, it matters not if it is a million lives or a single one, for the principle is the same.)

There is, of course, another important issue:  how might good people deal with evil?  How should we act to stop it or expose it?  Ultimately, if there is an identity between evil and irrationality, then we might want to start by viewing evil as the ultimate dishonesty:  a faking of, and a revolt against, the facts of reality.  We might want to start by judging it accordingly---if we are to retain any sense of integrity, any sense of loyalty to our own rational values.

Personally, I have found that one of the most important ways of fighting evil is to confront what Jung might call, our own "shadows," or the "enemy within" (see Joe Maurone's post, "ATL: fear as the root of war," Sun, 21 Oct 2001), because, in grasping---and triumphing over---our own fears and weaknesses, we become less vulnerable to the evils that attack us from without, the evils that seek to corrupt our happiness and our lives.  This is why Rand's psychological morality---which asks us to "check our premises"---can become the basis for a technology of self-liberation in the face of evil.

I'd really be interested in seeing some comments on this topic.  I understand Rand's view of the non-creative, destructive capacity of evil.  The issue, however, is its potency and its punishment.  From where I sit, it is THE issue of our day. Comments?  Questions?  Revelations?  All welcome. Thanks! Cheers, Chris

From: " Jane Yoder" To: atlantis Subject: ATL: Re: Evil Date: Sat, 1 Dec 2001 11:20:18 -0700 Hi Atlantis ~~ Chris, your question concerning Evil bothers me as I am still assimilating the reams of writing produced both on list and off since September 11.  I am convinced of the horror still imaged for me in the scenarios I've previously sent Atlantis. They concerned the kindergarten flag with the red stripes made of "bloody" children's hand prints and the dishanding of 4000 enemy troops by Julius Caesar.

In real time I witnessed the disaster on t.v. and remember pathetically saying over and over again - but it's all gone. This is where Ayn Rand shows the impotency of Evil as it has no power to construct, either what it destroyed or needed to replace. I'm referencing here the economics pamphlet of Frederic Bastiat entitled "What is Seen and Unseen" --  yes the glazier gets more work for a broken baker's window. That is seen; what is unseen is the choices that might have been productively made had the child not thrown the stone to smash the window. WTC writes it LARGE.

I am convinced the world's current mess is religious. Evil is a religious concept. My answer in giving advice to George Bush right now is to drop that terminology and stop the hypocrisy that Islam is a peaceful religion. This also means the idea that this country was founded as a Christian nation has got to be fought. This also means scapegoating Israel has little bearing on what is going on. Fundamentalists of all ilks need to be held responsible for the evil that is the faith-force Gordian knot. For every tat of terror there is a tit of faith.

These are assertions which I hope I can elaborate upon elsewhere. However, for all our considerations we learn more and more how disarmed we are by the inflicted ignorance of the media, the schools, and above all, the churches. To the extent that those of us who try to be objective and more knowledgeable we have tools, called Ayn Rand's intellectual  ammunition, to attempt the preservation of  Founding Fathers' enlightened  Constitution.

And not to be religious, Reinhold Niebur's prayer can help: “...grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, Courage to change the things we can, And the wisdom to know the difference."

Somewhere Ayn Rand pointed out the wastefulness of battling the things we cannot change; just recently an Atlantean pointed out Dr. Stadler's lack of courage, not intelligence. I've always thought the wisdom was hard to come by but worth seeking.

As a nation America did not cause the WTC disaster it is waging war about. We, individually, cannot change any of it. But we can, as you are doing Chris, wage wisdom passionately. Loss is loss and it hurts horribly. Accepting it is not evil; allowing defeat is.  The ideas are the important facts and we need less tolerance of religion (secular as well as denominated) and more constructive pledges of allegiance to the Bill of Rights.

Other things to do right now, but Chris asked. And if anyone deserves a reply, he does. Sincerely, Jane

From: Chris Matthew Sciabarra To: Atlantis* Subject: ATL: Replies to Jane and Joe on Evil Date: Sat, 01 Dec 2001 18:50:09 -0500. The swift responses of both Jane Yoder and Joe Maurone have made me think a bit more about this subject, so I'd like to follow up this morning's questions, with a few more thoughts, and then, call it a night:

Jane admits to being bothered by the whole question of evil, because, as she puts it, "Evil is a religious concept. My answer in giving advice to George Bush right now is to drop that terminology and stop the hypocrisy that Islam is a peaceful religion. . . . For every tat of terror there is a tit of faith."

First, I'd like to say, up front, that I too would like George Bush to drop the terminology.  Every time he says, "the evil-doers," I cringe.  But that is only because I, like many others on Atlantis, recognize the duplicity of American foreign policy in having laid the basis for the current nightmare.  (But, as I've said before, UNDERSTANDING the context is not the same as JUSTIFYING the actions of those who took down the Twin Towers.  There is a difference between explanation and justification.)

Second, I too believe that Rand had some great insights into the organic unity of faith and force, and we need to pay attention to that unity---regardless of which faith propels which force.

Interestingly, like Rand, Jane quotes the serenity prayer of Reinhold Niebur.  Taking a cue from F. A. Hayek, I have long called this prayer:  "The Anti-Constructivist Prayer."  Hayek condemned "constructivist rationalism," because it relied on the false presumption that everything was open to human control.  Such constructivism requires a kind of omniscience, a kind of super-efficacy, in which every action brings about a known effect.  Anything falling short of this super-efficacy creates, then, a form of social neurosis for constructivists.  (It is for this reason that Marx and his ilk condemned capitalism, because the market operated "behind people's backs," and only social "planning" would, it was said, give the working class the efficacy it required and desired.  In the 20th century, however, "planning" simply annihilated anything that did not conform to the stipulated plans. And such was the ultimate legacy of socialism, in all its incarnations.)

The problem with constructivism is that there are many unintended consequences to our actions.  That is simply in the nature of social action.  The source of much psychological depression, it seems, is the belief that we CAN actually change things that are not within our power to change.  We really do need to become wiser in grasping the difference between the things we can change and the things we can't.

I do not believe, however, that we can simplistically assume that everything human beings do is open to change, while everything inherent in nature is not.  On this issue, there are many complexities and gradations not easily captured by the simple dichotomy of "the man-made" versus "the metaphysical."  But that's because there are many levels that constitute the "man-made."

One of the reasons why I've alluded to some personal matters in my posts is that I accept the radical belief that "the personal is the political."  While I sidestep details, I do believe that our ability to master the personal is crucial to any radical vision for social change, at least any radical vision worth its salt.

I recall that earlier this week, Joe spoke of how he left the church partially because of what it said about the morality of homosexuality, and that he became just as disenchanted with some of the attitudes he discovered among those who called themselves "Objectivists."  If we were to divorce our own vision of personal happiness and liberation from wider notions of social and political liberation, we would do damage to that personal happiness.  That's why the battle is both personal and political.

I don't believe that this "personal-political" equation is a strict identity; rather, I believe that what we do personally has implications for our understanding of politics and culture, just as what we do politically and culturally has implications for our personal lives.  That's why "evil" as such is not strictly a personal matter---or a political one.

In AYN RAND: THE RUSSIAN RADICAL, and elsewhere, I have proposed a tri-level model of Rand's understanding of the use of power in society because power---like freedom---operates on many interrelated levels:  the personal (which includes an emphasis on the ethical and psycho-epistemological); the cultural (which includes the aesthetic, the pedagogical, the linguistic); and the structural (which includes the political and economic).  Rand's proposed revolution is a radical, all-encompassing one that asks us to liberate ourselves, the culture, and the political/economic structures in society---because these levels are interrelated.  (And one of the reasons why Rand indicted some modern libertarians is because they had a tendency to reify the political as if it could be a whole unto itself.)

On the issue of evil, Joe argues that "the problem of Rand's idea of the impotence of evil is that 'evil' is a subjective term."  As Joe puts it (and I suggested as much in my first post), "most 'evildoers' don't believe they are doing evil...most think they are acting in the name of the good..."

But Joe points to something that has long plagued modern social science and philosophy:  the distinction between what Max Weber and others have called "substantive" versus "instrumental" rationality.  Substantive rationality applies to values and goals, while instrumental rationality applies to the means for achieving them.  (When Mises spoke of "praxeology" and of "rational" human action, he focused almost exclusively on this instrumental aspect.)  Joe is correct that the terrorists used their minds to carry out an elaborate plan; their "rationality," however, applied strictly to the means, the "instrumental" aspects, which, from the perspective of those who have suffered at their hands, have been divorced from the "substantive" aspects.

Of course, the terrorists didn't see it this way; for once they had accepted the rightness of their values and goals---to serve Islam and Allah---the means were merely a logical implication.  That is why, ultimately, the real battle is not over instrumental rationality; the real battle is over values.  And once such values are defined objectively, there should be no dichotomy or conflict between ends and means.  That's what Rand proposed in her own attempts at an Objectivist ethos.

(BTW, on this whole issue of "destruction and creation," Joe is making a point that he develops in his forthcoming JARS article.  It is a point that others have made in their analyses of both Rand---and Nietzsche:  that often, the "transvaluation of values" entails usurping, destroying or inverting convention.  For Rand, selflessness was evil, whereas selflessness was "the good" in Christian dogma.  This is the kind of inversion that led Rand to characterize Galt in ATLAS SHRUGGED as both a "destroyer" and a "creator.")

Joe states:  "But that's where the subjective comes in, because what's evil to one is God's will to another. And that's what makes the need for justice all the more urgent."  But since justice is a virtue, it can only be defined in the context of a larger scheme of virtues and values; if we give up the battle to define that scheme objectively then we give every killer the right to do the deed.

Joe also makes a recommendation:  "BTW, since Dr. Sciabarra brought up Jung, Jung has a book called JUNG ON EVIL, which is interesting in this context, since he is using WW2 and the Nazi's as his focal point, and we are using Sept. 11th."

Jung is a good source on this.  I should also note that the issue of WW2 and the Nazis (especially the Holocaust) was a great focal point for thinking about evil in the modern world and trying to make sense of it.  The leftist "Frankfurt School" of Theodor Adorno, Max Horkheimer, Herbert Marcuse, and their disciples (including Erich Fromm, Jurgen Habermas and others) spent an enormous amount of intellectual capital trying to come to terms with the authoritarian personality and the horrors of genocide.  But so did Wiesel, Bettleheim, and others.  It seems that every generation gets its chance to revisit the issue of evil and its potency anew.  I don't expect that this issue will ever go away. One final note:  :):):)

I recall Debbie pointing out to Joe earlier this week that if he's going to address Nathaniel Branden with a title, he should use "Dr." not "Mr." For me, uh, Chris is just fine.  But y'all know that already.  :) As priorities go, I have one major priority this evening, and it is a very big one:  Watching my favorite Yankee, that wonderful shortstop, Derek Jeter, who is hosting "Saturday Night Live."  No evil on earth could stop me from this most pleasurable task. :) Cheers, Chris

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On 2/9/2021 at 8:19 PM, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Ralph,

This is not jousting or snark. How many written courses in philosophy are you familiar with?

My question comes from my "cognitive before normative" approach in thinking. Before I use superlatives and other forms of evaluation, I try to identify correctly what I am talking about. 

If you are going to compare Peikoff's course against all the other courses out there and declare his as one of the best, shouldn't you know what the other courses are like? At least a few of them? If not, what is your standard for evaluating?

Serious question.

Michael

Mostly courses in Objectivism, a philosophy that is a science. And regular sciences and subdivisions. How many courses? Ten or more; and if I count books and text books on science and philosophy, possibly twenty books.  

For rather good definitions of the concepts of Cognitive and Normative see Wikipedia; and there is also a nice patter of discussion and explanation to be found. At least there is a lot of material for thought there that is written from a generally rational point of view. I don't claim that those materials are the end all; and there may be some good definitions of those concepts from other sources that I haven't seen. Whether these are useful concepts to say more than "mental process" for cognitive, and "types of methods" for normative, I cannot say. My thought is that these ideas are not opposites; and that they are wide generalities that catch many disparate ideas in selected contexts. Either way one had ought to explain what one is trying to say, provide examples, demonstrations, definitions, and proofs. 

On Peikoff's courses, I found that his course on the subject of Logic to be most demanding and rewarding. His lectures on the History of philosophy, ancient and modern, are great for perspective.

 RALPH HERTLE. 

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On 2/9/2021 at 4:01 PM, Strictlylogical said:

 

 

I'm not sure about making "a lot more" sense.

 

Conceptually, it is equally incorrect to claim that the universe, i.e. each and every entity which exists, is made of  "number", "magnitudes", and "scientific concepts" or "scientific principles".

Reification of conceptual content as external entities is the error.  Principles, quantity, magnitude, are concepts by which we conceive of, understand, and predict what we observe about entities in existence, they do not literally make up entities.

 

Things are no more "scientific principles" than they are "numbers". 

 

Reification is not what the Ancient Greek Geometers were trying to do when they made up the concepts of the "Celestial Spheres". They merely represented their idea with a drawing-type of gesture.  If they said "Sun" and drew a small circle in the air by hand to point out the hot yellow thing, or by a sweeping gesture by hand across and around the the sky from east to west they may have being trying to suggest the arc of the Sun's entity orbit that appears to cause night and day. Is that two "Spheres"? The stars and planets all had their own unique spheres that had many particular properties. Mars' orbit in the sky was in part a clear arc, however, they found that Mars' orbit also had kinks and squiggles in its line. Every entity had its own clear bubble, and the transparent imaginary and concentric "spheres" were similar to bubbles upon which one could draw features; all drawn in mind. The entities so drawn on their unique transparent bubbles also had different distances, speeds, and colors. The Spheres were visible and they were ways to collect many ideas from observation; and each entity, or celestial phenomenon, for example, a comet, was found to function, that is exist, and be expressed in its own space; in its own functional "Sphere". The Spheres were educational constructs meant to guide the student in understanding the nature of the entity or phenomenon being observed; they weren't intended to be or to directly represent physical beings or entities. Reification wasn't the intention; learning ideas in mind was.  RALPH HERTLE

  

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The word “reification” made me find this quote that does not say it. Peter

Quoted from "Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology," page 111: Only in regard to the man-made is it valid to claim: "It happens to be, but it could have been otherwise." Even here, the term "contingent" is highly misleading. Historically, that term has been used to designate a metaphysical category of much wider scope than the realm of human action; and it has always been associated with a metaphysics which, in one form or another, denies the facts of Identity and Causality. The "necessary-contingent" terminology serves only to introduce confusion, and should be abandoned. What is required in this context is the distinction between the "metaphysical" and the "man-made."

The existence of human volition cannot be used to justify the theory that there is a dichotomy of *propositions* or of *truths*. Propositions about metaphysical facts and propositions about man-made facts do not have different characteristics *qua propositions*. They differ merely in their subject matter, but then so do the propositions of astronomy and immunology. Truths about metaphysical and man-made facts are learned and validated by the same process: by observation; and, *qua truths*, both are equally necessary. Some *facts* are not necessary, but all *truths* are.

Truth is the identification of a fact of reality. Whether the fact in question is metaphysical or man-made, the fact determines the truth: if the fact exists, there is no alternative in regard to what is true. For instance, the fact that the U.S. has 50 states was not metaphysically necessary - but as long as this is men's choice, the proposition that "The U.S. has 50 states" is necessarily *true*. A true proposition *must* describe the facts as they are. In this sense, a "necessary truth" is a redundancy, and a "contingent truth" a self-contradiction.

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I had a few old letters from Ralph Hertle. Here are three. Trying to get rid of spaces I deleted some words and replaced them with dots. Peter

From: Ralph Hertle To: objectivism Subject: OWL: Re: Native Americans & un-owned US govt land Date: Wed, 17 Oct 2001 21:07:04 -0400 OWL: Prior to the arrival of the Europeans the population of the Native Americans reached as high as 500,000 to 2,000,000 persons. There were many tribes all across North America. Some tribes and persons were nomads, and most were not. The NAs of Central Illinois lived in wooden towns. The NAs of Ohio lived in houses and communities, and their system of representative government formed the basis for the US Congress. The Hopi people of the Southwestern US area lived in multi-storied apartment buildings.

Of course, the NAs had the concept of property, and to various extents there were various innovations, developments, and applications of it.

An acquaintance of mine told me that Ayn Rand said in her lecture at West Point, called, "Philosophy: Who Needs It", in the Q and A session, that the Native Americans have no property rights ..... because they were a bunch of nomads that did not have the "concept" of property rights.

The NAs were definitely not all nomads, and the facts clearly support that. Any claim the NAs were all nomads would involve the fallacy of over-generalization in that the characteristics of a part should not be extended to include all the other different parts.

Regarding property and property rights, I don't doubt that there were a number of different concepts of property as well as different arrangements for dividing land, usage rights, renting, and buying and selling goods or property, that were used by the various tribes. The Nas had nothing as sophisticated as the concepts of the Europeans, however. Any claim that the NAs did not have the concept of property is impossible to support by means of a reference to the facts. Surely, that if one NA did not have a concept of property rights, and that some did, such a claim would involve over-generalization.

I think the issue is not what concepts of property the NAs had, rather, that the Americans should have extended their concepts to the NAs as a gift. A gift of law, liberty, civilization, freedom of action, and productivity. American concepts of property should have been employed to identify and upgrade or enhance the concepts of property that were then in use by the NAs. For example, the Americans should have helped the NAs to find out where their tribe's, group's, or individual's land was, mark it out on the land, map it, register the deeds, and respect it. Lack of the English language would have prevented the NAs from registering deeds to their lands, and the Americans should have done it for them and talked them through the process.

The form of the land that was ultimately given to the NAs by American legislators was the prison reservation. The concept of property that was used by the nomadic American settlers to locate the NAs was the concentration camp.

The USA still uses concentration camps, e.g., to contain Japanese Americans during WWII, and also, to contain Caribbean immigrants and ex-Cuban prisoners during the 1970s & 80s (cite needed). WWII soldiers were POWs, and that was a different matter.

I would ask who's concepts of property were superior.

Except for the reservations, the NAs were eventually totally included into the fabric of America. They were surrounded, and there was nothing better for them to do than to work within the American system and to reap the benefits of the American society.

The opportunity continues to exist that America can formally extend its concepts of liberty, rights, and property to the descendants of the Native Americans.

The lands that are now being used for their natural resources, or as nature preserves, could, under NA ownership and management, become valuable places. Wealth could be generated in new ways that US government bureaucracies and curators could never imagine.

State governments could create programs similar to the Federal program. America could be the first nation in all history to become 100% privately owned.

I searched using the keywords, native american, native, and, Indian, and "The Objectivism Research CD-ROM", by Philip Oliver, and I was not able to locate any information regarding Ayn Rand's views for this thread. Nor was I able to locate Rand's West Point speech that includes a reference to Native Americans.

[Moderator: Ralph added in a subsequent message: "Greg Johnson pointed out to me the published source regarding Rand's West Point speech that has a reference to the Native Americans: He says that the speech in question was available as a CD from Second Renaissance books. Thanks Greg."]

While we are at it the concept and practice of the concentration camp should be banned by the Supreme Court under several principles of the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Also, I think that a Presidential Proclamation could be ratified into law by the Congress, for example, in the same way as Lincoln created the Emancipation Proclamation. It would be ludicrous to call such entities as concentration camps property, especially in a free society. Congress needs to define the rights of all types of peoples, or groups that are confined, and what means or recourse of action that any such individuals would have in a court of law.

The argument that since virtually no American during the 18th and 19th centuries had a Birth Certificate, pedigree, or any sort of legal documentation, that they were not legal residents of the US. Hence they had no rights as citizens any more than did the Native Americans. The argument could be continued, however, the principle that in America all rights are inalienable, meaning the rights of all the people, will ultimately hold true.

Is there a lawyer somewhere in America who could bring the instant matters of government land and the Native Americans to the attention of the Supreme Court or to the President? Ralph Hertle

From: Ralph Hertle To: objectivism Subject: OWL: Re: Native Americans & un-owned US govt land Date: Sun, 21 Oct 2001 17:01:23 -0400 OWL: I was been told off-list that I had not described the concept of private property rights that any of the NAs held. Nor had I stated why the descendants of the NAs have any claim on the natural resources their descendants had no knowledge, of, e.g., oil and minerals. That is basically true. I think that it the property rights concept of the NAs is irrelevant. Also the mineral rights is not an issue since the rights to minerals are part of the land. In other words, the minerals that are part of the land are generally transferred with the land unless any discovered minerals or rights to same are transferred by means of contracts, e.g., by sale or lease.

A further explanation of my proposal to privatize all socialistic land in the US, and to, at the same time, formally extend the principles of American rights and Constitutional liberties to the NAs, which morally should have been done, and to their descendants follows.

............................

Readers may be interested in the earlier post that I made on, Mon., Oct. 22, 2001, 1:30a, that had the subject, line, "Re: Native Americans & un-owned US govt. land" This post is a further explanation to that earlier post. That post dealt with the "...American concept of inalienable rights...", and with a way to deal with the matter of creating new property rights where no sophisticated or continually existing rights of private property have been generally recognized.

The interesting concept of the proposal was that it permits the socialistic land of the USA to be converted to private property. The land would then become a productive part of the free-enterprise system. The land would be moved into the private ownership realm at no cost to any American, nor would existing mining, leases, rentals, and other land use contracts be discontinued.

Nor would the land be given away, sold or auctioned, to any special interest groups. The successor owners, that is the new owners (there not having been any owners according to popular property theory and modern non-NA preferences) would honor the existing contracts, e.g., leases or easements, by amending the appropriate papers, filings, licenses, and whatever. There would be costs to the creation and tracking of the new corporations, by government agencies or private contractors, of course. Capital Gains and income taxes could be waived for the one-time event. There would be stock underwriting and transfer and legal fees. No real estate sales would be initially involved, only a creation and identification of shares of stock.

Included in the land would be the rivers, lakes, and coastal waterways that lie upon US Government land as part of the government lands to identified anew as private lands. All these lands would be privatized by incorporation as the new assets of private stock companies, and by the acceptance by the distribution of shares in the incorporated companies equally to all descendants of Native Americans.  Thousands of corporations would exist that would reflect the great number of parcels. The parcels should be made as large as possible, however the task of identifying the individual pieces of land, and creating deeds, and registering the deeds with the appropriate state governments would be a significant task. Fortunately, the US is up to its top in the number of attorneys it has, and there are plenty enough to do the work. The record keeping necessary would be possible due the great advances made in computers, software, IT, RE management, and GIS technologies applications.

I will reiterate at this time that it makes no difference, whatsoever, what form of ownership the NAs had. The important legal theory would be that the legal domain of the liberties of America had been extended to encompass and embrace all the NAs and their descendants. The rights and principles of American liberty should be those that should have prevailed.

Nor is the principle of a claim relevant. Nor should the claim to any wealth, or to the wealth of others, especially the wealth that was considered to be wealth by the NAs, as expressed by Americans, and that was taken by the Americans, be considered to be valid. Claims imply the right to take, use, improve, and to own any property. But there must first be rightfully owned property. I will grant that many, if not most, settlers were as honest as the Nas in their desire to create a life from the land. The NAs had been purposefully using and developing the land to the benefit of creating a living since ever; and the property acquiring and owning settlers have been purposefully using and developing the land to the benefit of creating a living for themselves ever since. Measurement omission should prevail.

The sophistication of the possible concepts of property has grown considerably from the early days. The rationality of current corporation and real estate ownership laws, in general, is considerable.

The Americans claimed and took, and then they stopped taking. What they didn't take they didn't return or refuse. They made it into socialistic, e.g., institutionalized government owned and operated land preserves or government business entities.

What is important now is that the land which has not been so claimed, improved and taken by private Americans should be simply released to the descendants of the NAs, and that it should become deeded land that is privately owned for the first time in history. . . .  than the descendants of the NAs, has a claim on the untaken lands. The lands in question, insofar as private ownership in a free enterprise system, are untaken privately. The improvements made to such lands, e.g., the construction of an airport, should remain the property of the government, or leaseholders, for example, and it is the land that should be made private.

Non-NA private persons also have no claims to the ownership of the lands by merit of a de-facto non-taking of the land, and the US government has ensured that the land be continued as non-owned land. That is, in spite of the claims of the occupation of, working and improving the land, or specifically using the land, that the NAs had.

Rights to the natural resources should remain with the land. Leases, easements, contracts to create certain improvements, and other contractual rights to make and keep certain improvements that have been agreed by means of contracts between the party and the government or filed with the government, e.g., possibly some mining, travel, or water rights, should remain in effect. The government would have to create the deeds to any improvements that it created, or to make contracts with the new owners to continue certain types of uses.

Their would, no doubt, be numerous special claims, and the Courts would be busy. I haven't devised a scheme that would embrace the reservations that are owned by the NA tribes or nations. I suggest, provisionally, that stock corporations be created for the reservation entities, and that the shares be given to all residents who now or ever did reside on such reservations. Some Objective laws would need to be written, and possibly the NA tribes would have a totally different approach. Quite possibly the reservation lands should simply be given to the tribal managements in the form of stock companies, and they would become the directors of the companies. That is a possible exception to the general principle of the giving of all of the un-owned government lands to all of the descendants of the Native Americans. In that way the concepts of American liberties would be formally extended to include the all the reservations. The matter of Sovereignty would need to be discussed, and maybe some type of democratically renewable merged status could be devised. The privatization of all public lands would be accomplished in the same act of law that would enable all the descendants of Native Americans to be the participants in a new process, that of protected American Liberty, individual rights, and free-enterprise.

Giving is the wrong word. The process is the benevolent recognition and granting of American liberties to those who would have properly been the beneficiaries to such a recognition and granting, and to their descendants.

All Americans would benefit greatly by the new burst of productivity that would be created by the new corporate owners. The process has no relationship to the particular monetary or other values of any lands for any reason. Measurement omission applies. The shares would be evenly divided, and each descendant of a Native American would get one share, or an equal number of shares, in every corporation, and every corporation would own significant parcels or lands that would include all the un-owned government land. For the first time, the lands would be cared for and made productive by private individuals and their companies. The new owners would be responsible for the use, upkeep, and commercial development of their lands as they see proper.

I make no claims to having all the answers to all the possible consequential problems. I think that the disposal of, or the privatization of, all of the un-owned government lands should be accomplished with as strict adherence to, extension of, and application of, the principles of the domain of American Liberty, individual rights, private property, and free enterprise as is humanly possible. Ralph Hertle

 

 

From: Ralph Hertle To: objectivism Subject: OWL: Defn. of Scientific Experiment Date: Mon, 04 Feb 2002 21:10:48 -0500 OWL: On scientific experiments: I suggest that the purpose, and not the function, of an experiment is to isolate the phenomena, causes and principles of interest, and to remove from consideration all factors that are not integral with the causes, etc., that are of interest.

 

The principles, etc., that function may be directly observed, evaluated, identified and measured by means of the operation or functioning of the experiment. (It is interesting that the terms, operation and functioning, of existents and causes, are frequently found in Aristotle's scientific writings.)

 

An experiment is a demonstration in physical reality or in ideas pertaining to same, of actual or hypothesized principles regarding the functioning of metaphysical or epistemological existents.

 

A scientific experiment, and I think that the qualification scientific is necessary, may be differentiated from a demonstration, which is the genus, in that the all the factors involved are placed in and function within a planned logical structure, procedure of events, and system of proof, that governs the type and quality of results, and which may prove or measure the existence of the principles or properties being observed.

 

That sentence needs some work, however, the gist of a definition of the concept of scientific experiment is there. Scientific experiments may have subsidiary purposes, e.g., to show the principle or cause of a process, or to evaluate, discover, identify or measure the properties of the selected existents. A scientific experiment is a demonstration, which has a controlled logical causal structure, which control provides for the isolation or selected of facts to be observed for the purpose of the discovery, identification and validation of the causes of those facts.

...........................

Perhaps someone else has another way of conceptualizing a definition for scientific experiment.  Ralph Hertle

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8 hours ago, HERTLE said:

... Objectivism, a philosophy that is a science.

Ralph,

I've read that claim ever since I first got into Rand back in the 1970's. It's a premise I eventually checked and thought through.

The way I've seen Rand use that claim, she mostly makes it a metaphor for emphasizing that serious thought went into devising her ideas. She does not make that claim as a cognitive identification of the mental and physical processes she used. I don't know about you, but I rarely see the tools of the scientific method--like trial and error--employed in the literature on Objectivism. And I have read almost all of Rand's works, including much of Peikoff, Branden, and other O-Land luminaries.

I don't even recall seeing the scientific method used in The Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology. There might be something there, but I don't recall it off the top of my head (despite the algebra :) ).

 

Starting Point and Memory

Instead, I normally see statements made as starting points, then extrapolation. (I've seen this snarkily described as reasoning by decree. And often it is. :) )

Mostly these starting statements (propositions) are based on observation, but sometimes not. Here's a good example from ITOE. Rand claimed that sensations are not retained in memory. Why? Did she observe that? Did someone else tell her that? Is she aware of some research about it? Did this come from introspection (like much of her thinking did?) Crickets. But accepting that proposition, how are percepts retained in memory? More crickets.

If you want to stretch things a bit, you could say "differentiation" and "integration" are the secret memory sauce (since she used them as a description of the main things consciousness does). The stretch in this case is that in the Randian formulation, sensations are only differentiated and integrated when they are used to make up percepts, and percepts get differentiated and integrated into concepts, and concepts get differentiated and integrated into higher-level concepts, and both percepts and concepts are retained in memory. So, using a syllogism:

A. Sensations are not formed by differentiating and integrating other things, but percepts and concepts are.
B. Sensations are not retained in memory, but percepts and concepts are.
Therefore: Differentiation and integration are critical to memory as pertains to sensations, percepts and concepts.

But even so, how are differentiation and integration related to memory? Here, there aren't even any crickets because the topic never comes up.

(Memory is mostly a big hole in Objectivism.)

I'm not criticizing this as right or wrong, I'm merely saying this process is not science as science is practiced.

(I am sidestepping the modern corruption of science pertaining to things like manmade climate change, eugenics using whatever euphemisms are in vogue, the social sciences trainwreck, etc. as such corruption comes from things outside of philosophy or science, thus they are beyond the scope of what I am talking about.)  

So calling Objectivism a science is rhetoric, not a cognitive identification. In purely identification terms, Objectivism is a philosophy and often linked to great storytelling.

 

Science and the Noggin

btw - If you ever get interested, I can point you to a lot of sources on memory, emotions, brain processes, neurochemicals, and so forth, all with repeatable results, and almost all written in terms lay people can understand.

But there are big words if one wishes, too. Frankly, for someone like me, they took a lot of time and effort to get used to. For instance, now I can say, and know what the hell I am talking about, that I am fascinated by the myelination of synaptic chains, or dendrite and axon pathways in neural networks, sometimes called neural pathways, and how these differ in the cerebellum (where there is no "I," but where motor skills develop), as opposed to the cortex in general (where there is an "I"--at least in most of it).

Talk about integration. How does beefing up brain cell links and covering them all with the equivalent of a plastic coating sound? :) That's just another way of partly saying what I said in the previous paragraph.

These lay-people-friendly books and lectures are all based on work that uses scientific methodology.

 

Back to Rand

Some of these ideas work with Rand's theories. Some do not. Where there is a difference, I go with where I can get repeatable results.

And, to repeat what I often say, I am not denigrating Rand here. (I admire her enormously.) I am merely identifying what is what based on my own observation and thinking.

Michael

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On 2/11/2021 at 1:05 PM, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Peter,

Human beings have improved plenty on their own without a technocratic ruling class engineering eugenics and forcing it on everyone.

Yet the assholes who want to rule are always dazzled by the thrill of eugenics. And they kill to make it happen. Just so long as the duds that, according to them, have to be eliminated are not among themselves...

An idiot who thinks he or she can force biological improvement on everyone is the snake eating its own tail mentality. The idiot is an agent. The agent pronounces bullshit in the third person. The idiot agent pretends the bullshit does not apply to him or her, nor entails the agent's inherent limitations, but instead is "science."

And the piles of corpses keep piling up when shit finally goes bad.

Eugenicists can pretend they have primacy over reality. But reality always extracts a high price for being disrespected. The loss of human life attributable to eugenics is incalculable. The human race would have far, far, far fewer bodies dead before their time if it killed off eugenicists rather than let them run their experiments on others by force and/or deception, which they always do.

Michael


Alan Watts on the subject of eugenics, and "the road to hell being paved with good intentions..."

("A plague of 'virtuous people'...")

https://odysee.com/@AfterSkool:7/alan-watts-the-road-to-hell-is-paved:5?r=GaL8rbdp6d72iYBHKisPv8NHpAwaB7LW


 

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  • 2 weeks later...

ON THE MOTIONS OF THE SPHERES 

Taking another try at understanding the Ancient Greek concepts of MOTION and RECTILINEAR MOTION.

The Ancient Greeks, and the Ancient Greek Geometers (AGGs, astronomers or geometers) tried to understand the objects in the heavens or sky. Not a simple task.

To say that things exist in the "multitude" was not too easy an idea to come up with. The AGGs concluded after seeing a lot of stuff that the concept of the universe identified a "plurality" of things; the universe was not a single entity or thing. They saw many entities. The identification of a plurality could be easily proved. The things  or objects in the universe or sky were separate from one another.

And yet they were different from one another. Different in unique ways.

What ways?

Earth's Moon, Luna to us, arcs through the sky day and night; and it appears to be, and have been, speeding along according to principles quite different from those of Mars.

And the Stars, so many of them, seem to always be in one place all the time and to not translate their locations relative to one another. 

Other entities, meteors, comets, Earth and Sun, and so on, have identities that seem to be unique.

If one gathers up all the we can see about a selected one of those that is a single thing we may identify that it, or they, exist. The thing continues to exist, and it continues, continues, continues. I keeps existing.

To borrow a phrase from the AGs, they found that, "taken together" the plurality was everything that exists. For mental convenience, says Ayn Rand, we may call everything that exist by a single name, the "universe", even though there is always and only is the plurality.

All those existents could be identified separately.  

Changing gears for a minute we may listen to what Ayn Rand has said about the concept of A is A, or "Existence Exists", that in the long form of the idea, is, she said, "Existence is Existing". That existence, being everything, continues to exist, and just keeps continuing to exist. 

To the AGGs that continuation of existence was a type of "Motion". We might say, a type of Motion in place. That is, an existent exists where it exists, or, "that existent there" 

What is it that you are talking about? That. A type or form of being. Existents, referred to singly, are things that have "Motion', or existences. 

The Moon arcs across the sky. There is more to it than to point to that thing there; existing where it is, with nothing more to be said about it. One day it is over there in the sky, and on another day, or night, it is in another place. One could draw a line from a point where it was in the sky to where it is. The moon had a function that was actualized to cause it to be at one place and then continue over to a still different place in  the sky. And, it would do that day after day, day upon end. The AGGs saw that a unique characteristic was at work, One that was different from another, highly visible characteristic, that the Moon had the visible quality of having a white color. Most of the time, that is.

The unique qualities of the Moon, for example, that it traversed the sky from place to place, were given the geometrical name "Rectilinear Motion".

The AGGs saw universal identifications, the existence or being of a thing, to be its "Motion"; and also, the particular attributes of a thing's nature or functioning, to be its "Rectilinear Motion".

Comets came and went, and stars stayed where they are relative to one another and together they rotated across the sky.

The objects in the sky had existence, "Motion", and they had properties and characteristics, "Rectilinear Motion".

They all had universal existences, and they all had properties and functionings.

To the AGGs the stars were the most static and the acted from their most distant sphere as things that in their plurality had many unique characteristics. And, yet, they seemed to act together, for the most part, as if they were all in a distant eternal sphere.

The term, "Sphere" was the "Handle", to give it our modern name, for the concept of, the eternal characteristic, the "Motion" of each and every thing. The existences were always there, and the unique attributes of every thing were the knowable differences or characteristics of the things that made things what they are. 

Not that the AGGs knew everything about each and every thing, which they didn't. They knew that the entities of the universe existed, and, also, that they had essences or characteristics. These ideas to us in the science of identification are termed, "Universals" and "particulars".

May we say that everything has universal attributes and particular attributes?

RALPH HERTLE   

 

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