Starving Child in the Wilderness Revisited


Michael Stuart Kelly

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I recall a statement in Atlas Shrugged that it is morally right for a mother to buy a hat for herself instead of milk for her starving child, if the hat is more important to her than the life of the child. This reductio ad absurdum establishes by a wide margin the parental right to abandon a child if the survival of the current family members, which tends to be more important than a hat, is more important to the parents than the life of the child. So the child's survival is an issue between the parents and the child. But the picture wasn't so bleak

Please, Peter, provide the quote, not a paraphrase of what you think she wrote. A good page reference would also be appreciated. Without such I am completely unable to read the rest of your post.

--Brant

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Wolf,

The guy is right around the end of high school/beginning of college age. I don't know about you, but I had a lot to work out when I was that age and I was not the most humble person around. (I guess that still holds to an extent. :) )

I think it is valuable to engage younger members, listen to them (in earnest) and point in specific directions as suggestions for their own journeys, then let them integrate, stumble, get things wrong and get them right, essentially do their own thinking.

But if you wish to block him (or anybody) on your computer, easy instructions are given here.

Michael

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Brant,

Nah. He's a good kid doing the best he can (and shining). I read about him in the MS Connection 2007, Issue 1, published by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, when he showed up on OL with a quirky post. (I happen to like quirky, but I keep my eye out after the plagiarism mess.) Here is what they said about him:

LONG ISLAND 2006 SCHOLARSHIP WINNERS

In 2006, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society awarded scholarships totaling $442,000.00 to 204 individuals nationwide, who are affected by multiple sclerosis. Four of the scholarship recipients were Long Island students.

The Long Island Chapter congratulates and acknowledges four well deserving students on their outstanding achievement: Peter Grotticelli of Lake Ronkonkoma, Sarah Judge of Seaford, Jaclyn Klaus of Massaspequa, and Dara Seidl of Melville. We wish you all the best of luck and success in your future endeavors.

Like I said, a good kid.

EDIT: Apparently you deleted your post as I was making mine.

Michael

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I was deleting my stuff like that jackass, Keating, who relies on others to sanction his existence; but I'm not going to watch my own funeral like Tom Sawyer did. I was thinking of disappearing and devoting myself exclusively to cell biology, so that those who smote me would regret it when they saw my fame, but there were too many problems with that approach: not only was it still in Keating's mindset, but also, I don't want to do it and therefore I'm not capable of it. So the hell with all that nonsense; I'm going to follow Rand's example and poke my finger into the small of your bad backs, for the pleasure of seeing ye squirm from the hydrochloric acid reflux of badly digested idealism.

I'll leave ye adults alone so ye can concentrate on John Galt's mission; I will draw my pictures of the epilogue to Atlas Shrugged in "Inky's Room," the same place to which Rand would have been quarantined, as Mr. Gaede knows well. But does Wolf DeVoon diffuse Ayn Rand's brand of objectivism? Nah; he fights it with nonsense like strategic foreign aid. I say, unless we have greater minds than Einstein, and Rosenbaum (Rand), and Feynman, all fellows in an ethnic group with ideas so bombastic that the vulnerable members were permanently quarantined below the ice in Russia, we can either apply Rand's objectivism or ruin it. Now I will apply it where it matters: in the dreams of youths, who will never cop out on me by dying, or by discrediting me because of my youth and my academic preference of the sciences to philosophy.

What group is really concentrating on Galt's mission: the youths, MSK who made their forum, and the engineers - the scientists! - who made MSK's computer and the Internet; or those who discredit Rand because of her eternal youth? Michael, thanks for sticking to constructive criticism.

Edit: Damn it, looks like I didn't poke fast enough to stop the funeral. But fear not, Ellen, for not I, but a relation of mine is afflicted. The sob sisters of the MS Society want to increase their bang for the buck by using vague language to make ye think that all of the scholarship winners have MS. The damned society never speaks of embryonic stem cells; it ignores them like Toohey ignored Roark. It calls for charity, volunteerism, federal funding, "MS research;" how nauseating! If we lived in the epilogue to Atlas Shrugged, I wouldn't have had to solicit money from these bastards; for self-education would have been acceptable, given the high price of private university tuition - the only option - and the availability of easily comprehensible texts in the natural and logical sciences, as well as a concise collection of all the philosophy we need (Ayn Rand!). Anyway, I wouldn't be humble even if I were afflicted; for public humility is hypocritically selfless selfishness, as Brant has taught me; it is a contradiction, and even Conan the Barbarian wouldn't stand for it (for he has said that non-contradiction is his only first principle, and I suppose that Rand believes the same). DeVoon, i.e. Mr. Thompson, might tell Galt to be humble because his idea is only one among equals. But those who wish to retain youth, and thereby carry out Galt's will, must never obey Thompson. He was by far the most dangerous foe to Galt, and his postmodernist counterparts in reality have so far suppressed Rand. By Jove, is she suppressed. I had lived eighteen years and yet could only associate Ayn Rand's name with Ann Coulter until my employer lent me her book; still, I put off reading it for a year because I didn't want to read Ann Coulter. Even now, those to whom I have mentioned Rand still call her "Ann Rand."

Edited by Peter Grotticelli
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Nobody is quarantined and nobody is Mr. Thompson. Wolf is a wonderful writer and intellect (and OL is loaded with talented first-hand minds). Also, I not only have no problem with ad hoc organizations that support research and aiding people afflicted with disease, I think they are doing wonderful work.

It's funny, because I saw "scholarship" much louder than "MS" and the news was published and even posted on the Internet. I think meriting a scholarship is something to be proud of, regardless of the sponsor. I know I was proud of the ones I received and so desperately needed for my education. I was proud because I earned them. When possible, I vastly prefer to look at the merit rather than the need. After all, even if Peter were afflicted, he is not a starving child in Sudan. He is in a country that can afford the luxury of organizations like the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. And even an organization like that focuses on merit and achievement in bestowing scholarships, not simply need.

Peter, regarding your rhetoric, you have lots of living in front of you and not all of it will be as you now think. But you have a very good base because you are thinking for yourself and not afraid to express yourself, so do carry on. You remind me a lot of me.

Michael

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You may still be a teenager, Peter, but you are also an adult now. At your age you are between two huge gravitational fields of who you were and who you are going to be and the tides pull and twist and generally distort. But what needs to be understood is that OL is first about ideas and when you put yours forth various people for various reasons, some not at all intellectual, will take umbrage, especially because your perspective on Rand, her ideas and the future plus your ideas rip their context. Sometimes these folks, like myself and Wolf, lacking the plasticity of youth, can be downright irascible; it goes with the territory. There's just one thing: stick around and fight it out. You have to be willing to defend your ideas.

--Brant

PS: [edit]: Dagny was Galt's most dangerous opponent. She broke into Galt's Gulch. They got to him through her. She fought to keep him from getting to the men of ability.

--Brant

Edited by Brant Gaede
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Wolf,

I use "ye" because it means "you" in the plural, and when I found that the romance languages have a plural "you," I decided that our language ought to restore this term in lieu of the bulkily disyllabic "you all" and "you guys," and the coarse "y'all" and "yous." I don't use any other Middle English. But I understand that it sounded pretentious in combination with my condescending request to withhold general criticism. Sorry, my friend; I took my objectivist license of pomposity too far.

Brant,

...your perspective on Rand, her ideas and the future plus your ideas rip their context.

You shall have to show me specifically how my ideas conflict with hers. If you mean that I broaden the context too much, then that is the particular general criticism that I expected and yet despise, because my postmodernist professor last semester had nothing to say to me except that my topics were too broad. Though these were arbitrary topics about "what I know and why I think I know it," which ought not to have the inherent boundary of scope, he just took offense at my desire to make sweeping sociological conclusions (hence with premises) out of what was supposed to be carefully-worded philosophizing without premises.

So I just hoped that I wouldn't hear the general criticism from objectivists that I should humbly work my way up to plans that span the continents. So I am inexperienced. But as the atoms are the same in "organic" and regular vegetables, so the plans are the same whether or not they include specialized terms and references. I did not propose anything new in law or philosophy; now that is the province of veterans.

Now I agree that my broad contexts can cause misunderstandings. For instance, I said that Thompson was Galt's greatest enemy because I was thinking of the unwritten epilogue, in which Thompson's postmodernism would keep people in denial even after all the chaos. So leaving the story as a given, I considered that which the story did not necessarily resolve.

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Mike:

~ I've only read to the end of 'page 2' of this thread, but, man, I gotta agree with everything Barbara has said.

~ You're looking for some source/justification/rationale for a stranger to be morally required (if not forced...with legal protection by the enforcer) to 'help' another in distress. You harp on using the term/image 'child', yet your concerns clearly are just as applicable to legal-adults who are physically-mentally disabled (think about it.) Suppose that 'kid' in the picture was a legless one-armed 'adult'...with leprosy?

~ Yes, the 'child' has rights; this does not imply a moral obligation to any (excuse me: EVERY)one who's made no care-taking committment to it, whether they're walking by or live in Hong Kong.

LLAP

J:D

PS: I'll bet you never watched that William Holden movie I suggested 'way back on RoR, right? You should.

Edited by John Dailey
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~ You're looking for some source/justification/rationale for a stranger to be morally required (if not forced...with legal protection by the enforcer) to 'help' another in distress.

John,

Nope. I never said that. The truth is that I haven't even gotten there yet. I said the matter is complicated and that there is a logical contradiction (or double standard) in the definition of man when using it to derive rights. That's a different problem.

Michael

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Mike:

~ I realize that you didn't say "X" and that you did say "Y." I interpret what you've said as amounting to a search for "X" and that your "Y" is something you haven't really established; I see no 'contradiction,' though, an apparent 'conflict' in one's idea/interpretation of justice/fairness.

~ I agree (as I've said elswhere) that it does boil down to the subject of 'rights.' We just seem to have different views as to how such applies...in dire circumstances.

~ I think that one overlooked aspect is about 'why' an adult would refuse help (apart from fear of catching something.) Prob is: even if there's an acceptable reason, is the adult to be (forcibly?) required to 'explain' his/her self, or...not? Or must we say that there is NO 'justifiable' reason that can be acceptable?

LLAP

J:D

Edited by John Dailey
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~ As far as 'Rand quotes' go...here's some (which might be relevent to all this) from Dr. Ferris:

"It's the question of moral responsibility that you might not have studied sufficiently, Mr. Galt..."

"...there are also sins of omission to consider. To fail to save a life is as immoral as to murder...since we must judge actions by their consequences, the moral responsibility is the same."

"...in view of the desperate shortage of food, it has been suggested that it might become necessary to issue a directive ordering that every third one of all children under the age of ten...be put to death, to secure the survival of the rest."

"You can prevent it....If you refuse and all those people are executed---it will be your fault and your moral responsibility!"

~ One accepts this...or one doesn't.

LLAP

J:D

Edited by John Dailey
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~ I agree (as I've said elswhere) that it does boil down to the subject of 'rights.'

John,

This is not where I am at. It does not boil down to rights. It boils down to the definition of what a human being is. Only after you know what a human being is can you think about what its rights are.

Philosophically, the question of rights is secondary, not a primary. Metaphysics comes way before ethics/politics.

Michael

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~ I agree (as I've said elswhere) that it does boil down to the subject of 'rights.'

John,

This is not where I am at. It does not boil down to rights. It boils down to the definition of what a human being is. Only after you know what a human being is can you think about what its rights are.

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

Michael

You are in luck. Craig Venter and his crew have mapped the human genome. The human genome along with a reliable model for how genes produce proteins tells -exactly- what a human being is.

See

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Craig_Venter

and

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_genome

We don't need no steeeeeenking metaphysics when we have genetics.

Ba'al Chatzaf (mystic of muscle and concrete bound materialist-pragmatist)

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Bob,

There is a fundamental error in your statement and I wish I knew what the source was, since I see it repeated so often. The difference between philosophy and science is not one of kind, but one of degree. Saying you don't need metaphysics to do science is like saying you don't need numbers to do advanced math. (The opposite is just as much an error, i.e., saying that metaphysics invalidates a scientifically proven fact.)

Philosophy is nothing more than a kind of instruction manual on how to use your mental equipment. Here is an example. Learning to see and identify what is right in front of you is a question of philosophy. Learning how to use a telescope or microscope is a question of science. They expand what you see in front of you. But if you cannot see at all, you certainly cannot use a telescope or microscope.

So if mankind had not learned language, basic logic, a numbering system, etc., he would never have mapped the human genome. He would not have had any cognitive tools to do so. Understanding what a map is to begin with is a question of philosophy. How to use it for knowledge that goes beyond what is right in front of us (in a macro or micro direction) is a question of science.

Knowing the nature of man from direct observation is a question of philosophy. Learning how that nature is constructed is a question of science.

I simply cannot understand the burning need I see in some defenders of a science-philosophy dichotomy to use science to invalidate how we use our minds. To show how ridiculous this is, look at what happens when transposed just to the area of sight. Would a scientist use telescopes and microscopes to prove that we don't see at all?

I don't think I will ever understand why people do this.

Michael

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I simply cannot understand the burning need I see in some defenders of a science-philosophy dichotomy to use science to invalidate how we use our minds. To show how ridiculous this is, look at what happens when transposed just to the area of sight. Would a scientist use telescopes and microscopes to prove that we don't see at all?

I don't think I will ever understand why people do this.

Michael

Any metaphysics beyond Reality Lite is wretched excess.

Reality Lite: There is an Out There out there and we have the senses and the wits to comprehend some of it. What is In Here is used to deal with what is Out There. End of lesson.

That is all the metaphysics required by sane folk. Why anyone would go deeper mystifies me.

Metaphysics has been an albatross around the neck of real science. Fortunately the scientists have cast it off since the time of Galileo. No more than Reality Lite is required. Think of the thousand Lost Years due to Aristotle's balderdash and notions concerning bodies and motion, for example.

As to how we use our "minds". First of all our "minds" are our brains in action and more has been found out about the human brain in the last fifty years than in the preceding three thousand years. And most of these discoveries are direct applications of quantum physics which has been hotly denied and denigrated by classical ontologists since it was invented a little more than a century ago.

There is no immaterial mind. That is right up there with ghosts, goblins, spirits, souls and gods. I can't understand why Descarte's nonsense still pollutes modern thought. Since classical philosophy does not address the brain as such it has little useful to say about the "mind". Start with Aristotle who believed that thought and feeling originated in the heart.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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Bob,

I could mention all kinds of wrong-headed scientists, but does that invalidate science? That is what you are doing with philosophy.

Try using quantum physics without being able to use a language. I would be interested to see how far you get.

(Not really. That was just rhetorical.)

Michael

Linguistic ability is The Basic Skill of humanity. The existence of language in no wise justifies metaphysics.

There was language long before metaphysics (over and above Reality Lite) and language will be there long after classical metaphysics is a mere historical footnote. Humans are born blabber-mouths genetically programmed to be so.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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