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Here is a question I would like everyone to chime in on -- especially those who seriously consider attending TAS Summer Seminars. If the following blurb (which I sent to Will) were in the conference advertisements, would you be intrigued enough to select it and attend? If so, why? If not, why not?

If you want ice cream, what are your options? Are they vanilla vs. chocolate, or is this a false dichotomy? What about both vanilla and chocolate -- or neither? Clearly, there are ~four~ alternatives, not just two -- and this pattern frequently underlies seemingly intractable disputes in philosophy, whether the mind-body dichotomy, altruism vs. egoism, rationalism vs. empiricism, fascism vs. communism, or whatever. The value of this idea of the four-fold alternative, or tetrachotomy, is a byproduct of over 40 years of fascination with logic and Objectivism. See for yourself how it can shed new light on many old controversies!

REB

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Roger,

Rand's rejection of formal dualism fits into your theory like a glove. In fact, the phrase "false dichotomy" can mean nothing less than the existence of a tetrachotomy as you just explained it (the ice cream example). I happen to use this in my own thinking a lot without having put it in those words.

Whatever. Rejection hurts, but as the saying goes, whatever doesn't kill you makes yous stronger.

Feel the luuuv...

Michael

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Here is a suggestion for TAS.

Make some kind of objective and established criterion for rejecting proposals. Rejecting Roger for proposing a mini-course and rejecting Robert Campbell for not proposing one (or not proposing more than one topic), and even advertising that mini-courses are sought, is all pretty ragged.

If all else fails, GIVE NO REASON. Or how aboiut this?

"Your proposal does not suit our plans this year."

This is not great, but it will pass muster and at least have the appearance of consistency.

Michael

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Roger,

I suspect there was indeed some unease about the topics that you planned to take on in your second and third lectures.

I proposed a lecture on the doctrine of the arbitrary assertion. Will Thomas asked me whether I was going to recommend tossing the entire notion out, and I said that I was. At that point I offered to send him my entire draft article on the subject, and he took me up on the offer.

In any event, we academics give credit when a colleague's work is accepted for publication. I wonder whether Will has different standards, or he simply has no idea what you currently have in press.

Robert Campbell

PS. Since the Leonard Peikoff Institute has made "rationalism" out to be the mother of all deviations, I'm surprised to see anyone at The Atlas Society using such language. The Peikovian charge of rationalism is pretty damn close to empty, when so much of Dr. Peikoff's own work exemplifies the cognitive vice that he so often condemns.

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Objectivism was the invention of a professional philosopher. Rand wrote on philosophical topics, got published and got paid. She wasn't an academic, but that's not the same.

Peter, this isn't worth arguing about, but a Ph.D. is generally considered (not by me, however) a prerequisite for the profession of philosophy. "This involves," states The Princeton Review, "five to seven years of study after completion of a college degree, including two to three years of course work. The rest of the time is spent writing a dissertation, which must be an original manuscript analyzing some aspect of philosophy." That's why I said that Ayn Rand was not a professional philosopher.

Roger, you wrote: "Here is a question I would like everyone to chime in on -- especially those who seriously consider attending TAS Summer Seminars. If the following blurb (which I sent to Will) were in the conference advertisements, would you be intrigued enough to select it and attend? If so, why? If not, why not?

"If you want ice cream, what are your options? Are they vanilla vs. chocolate, or is this a false dichotomy? What about both vanilla and chocolate -- or neither? Clearly, there are ~four~ alternatives, not just two -- and this pattern frequently underlies seemingly intractable disputes in philosophy, whether the mind-body dichotomy, altruism vs. egoism, rationalism vs. empiricism, fascism vs. communism, or whatever. The value of this idea of the four-fold alternative, or tetrachotomy, is a byproduct of over 40 years of fascination with logic and Objectivism. See for yourself how it can shed new light on many old controversies!"

Yes, indeed, I definitely would attend these lectures. The subject interests me especially because I'm working on problems in the area of efficient thinking, and the issue you raise is clearly relevant.

Barbara

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> If you want ice cream, what are your options? Are they vanilla vs. chocolate, or is this a false dichotomy? What about both vanilla and chocolate -- or neither? Clearly, there are ~four~ alternatives, not just two -- and this pattern frequently underlies seemingly intractable disputes in philosophy, whether the mind-body dichotomy, altruism vs. egoism, rationalism vs. empiricism, fascism vs. communism, or whatever.

Maybe this should be spun off into another thread - as this thread is about TAS, the summer conference, and choosing lecture topics (not one particular topic). And I'm still hoping for discussion about my post on those topics.

Roger, sorry to have to be so negative, but I have strong problems both with your tetrachotomy and with many of the examples to which you apply it.

It is -sometimes- the case when someone says choose between A or B that you will react, "Why should I choose either of those two? why can't I choose not to have ice cream... or to have both flavors?" And if a biologist discovers a fossil of a strange insect that has some arachnid and some insect traits, it is certainly useful to remember that it doesn't have to be either-or. On rare occasions, it could be a discovery of an entirely new classification.

But there are lots of situations in life and in the realm of ideas where this "fourfold" model is constraining or misleading. (In fact, I wonder whether the number of cases where it is useful isn't far less than the number of cases where it is unproductive):

1. MORE THAN FOUR: Even in the ice cream case, it is most helpful to think of five alternatives: the 'neither' alternative is really two alternatives: a/ to not have ice cream, b/ to have an +additional+ choice (another flavor). And then of course there may be 31 flavors or 31 alternatives.

2. OBVIOUS CHOICE - BUT GETS YOU NOWHERE: In the case of living by reason or living by emotion (which includes instinct, revelation, whim, etc. as forms), no one is going to say you should live by neither. And the "both" alternative is almost trivial as an answer. It doesn't get you that far because it leaves all the important questions unanswered: Do you choose between them by whim? Is it an equal balance? Does it shift from time to time? Which one is supreme, if either? In the case of fascism vs. communism, also, almost everyone understands the answer is neither. But again, that doesn't get you very far. The alternative of laissez-faire capitalism and individual rights took most of human history to emerge.

3. VERY PREMATURE: Sometimes you -can't- go to the fourfold approach because the two 'dichotomized' alternatives are unclear. Not yet defined. Or improperly defined: altruism vs. egoism. The key is not to think in terms of neither or both but to break apart the egoism choice into nietzschean egoism and rational egoism by means of clearly defining one's terms as Rand did.

4. ONLY TWO CHOICES: Sometimes there -are- only two choices. When choosing both or neither is a logical impossibility. These are the A vs. non-A situations which occur constantly. Being an honest man or not, being productive or not, being in focus or not. Once one has - very precisely - defined the limits and context of what one means by productive, honest, in focus. I would argue that you are mistaken in including (Lecture Two, numbers 9 and 10) these as examples of four alternatives: --false alternative of truth vs. falsity --false alternative of "The King of France is bald" vs. "The King of France is not bald."

In fact each of these is a true instance of what Aristotle would call "either-or". As he explained, once you completely specify what you mean by bald (and assuming existence -that France has a king not a queen), what percent of hair and on what part of the head constitutes baldness means one of these two statements is false and the other true. Similarly, once you have a meaningful statement (positing the existence of some entity, action, attribute), it's either true or false.

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Well, thanks, everyone, for sharing your encouragement, suggestions, and condolences. :console:

Phil, you will always be a "star" to me. I particularly enjoy your positive, benevolent, and enthusiastic manner in talking about heroes, Ancient Greeks, etc. :) Relegating you to the "back rooms" is almost a crime -- but at least, there's that option. However, this year, Becky and I can't afford to attend, if both of us have to pay full expenses of travel, room and board, and tuition. Maybe next year on the East Coast -- more likely, in two years when the Summer Seminar will perhaps return to SoCal.

Robert, your arbitrary assertion paper was very worthy -- and well worth comping you for it, even if it were only a single lecture. You know I don't agree with every bit of what you said, but it is at least largely correct, and very important in movement terms. This is TAS's significant loss, in my opinion.

Barbara and Michael, bless you both for seeing, understanding, and appreciating what I am driving at with the tetrachotomy thesis. Your encouragement is "high octane." :hug:

A big bouquet and lots of good wishes for a GREAT OH-EIGHT to everyone on OL. :flowers:

REB

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> Phil, you will always be a "star" to me. I particularly enjoy your positive, benevolent, and enthusiastic manner in talking about heroes, Ancient Greeks, etc.

Jeez!!!!, Roger, we just cross-posted....!!! Now, after you said all those nice things...can I just take back my critical post questioning your tetrachotomy :-)????

Let's see I can both take it back or neither or... I can choose to not take it back or I can take it back...

is that -four- choices or six??????... :angry:

wait :rolleyes:

i'm confuzed

nevermind. B)

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Phil, you offered some really helpful, insightful comments, and I appreciate them. Some comments....

there are lots of situations in life and in the realm of ideas where this "fourfold" model is constraining or misleading:

1. MORE THAN FOUR: Even in the ice cream case, it is most helpful to think of five alternatives: the 'neither' alternative is really two alternatives: a/ to not have ice cream, b/ to have an +additional+ choice (another flavor). And then of course there may be 31 flavors or 31 alternatives.

Certainly, if the flavor universe contains more than two kinds, the "neither" option may amount to either some other flavor than chocolate or vanilla or no ice cream at all. But when I lay out the options in my lecture example, I specify that there are two flavors available -- and your choices obviously are to have both, one or the other, or neither.

2. OBVIOUS CHOICE - BUT GETS YOU NOWHERE: In the case of living by reason or living by emotion (which includes instinct, revelation, whim, etc. as forms), no one is going to say you should live by neither. And the "both" alternative is almost trivial as an answer. It doesn't get you that far because it leaves all the important questions unanswered: Do you choose between them by whim? Is it an equal balance? Does it shift from time to time? Which one is supreme, if either? In the case of fascism vs. communism, also, almost everyone understands the answer is neither. But again, that doesn't get you very far. The alternative of laissez-faire capitalism and individual rights took most of human history to emerge.

I disagree with your first comment. The purpose of the tetrachotomy in resolving false dichotomies is not to "get you somewhere," but to show that there are four alternatives, not two (or three), and thus to point you in the right direction for finding the best resolution of the issue. And while sometimes one of the alternatives amounts to nihilism, this is not always the case. For instance, in this example in particular, there are many people who would say that you should act neither according to your own independent rational judgment, nor by your "independent" whims &c., but instead by duty and/or tradition. So, "neither" is a non-vacuous alternative

Also, in dealing with the reason/emotion dichotomy, I would not use "live by reason" vs. "do not live by reason" and "live by emotion" vs. "do not live by emotion." You have to pick the alternatives more carefully than that to get anything useful and insightful. This is an art, and not a cut-and-dried affair. Just as a first stab at how I might approach the issue: "take reason into account in making life decisions" vs. "do not take reason into account in making life decisions" and "take emotion into account in making life decisions" vs. "do not take emotion into account in making life decisions." This more clearly indicates that "both" leads to a careful consideration of the nature of reason and emotion and the role each of them play in human life. And while it is true that answering "both" leads to a lot of unpacking of ramifications and nuances, I don't see that as a flaw, just part of the task of finding out how reason and emotion appropriately relate.

In fascism vs. communism, I realized that Rand's insight about "nominal" recognition of property rights being characteristic of fascism was of absolutely critical importance in pointing the way to the right tetrachotomy alternatives: there is de jure recognition of property rights vs. no de jure recognition of property rights, and there is de facto recognition of property rights vs. no de facto recognition of property rights. Communism is essentially no de facto and no de jure property rights -- fascism is de jure (Rand's "nominal") but no de facto property rights -- laissez-faire capitalism/libertarianism is both de jure and de facto property rights -- and then what?? What is de facto but not de jure property rights? Is this a null set? Actually, no. In the early 18th century, the American colonies existed largely in a state of "Benign Neglect," as the attention of the British overlords was focused elsewhere in the Empire, as Murray Rothbard pointed out in one of the volumes of his "Conceived in Liberty" series. This is a nifty example of de facto but not de jure property rights, and it nicely rounds out the fascism vs. communism false dichotomy --> tetrachotomy.

See, you have to ask the right questions -- i.e., to frame the right alternatives, the a or not-a and the b or not-b. If you get insightful or lucky or both (or neither? :) ), you can really clear the air on a particular controversy.

3. VERY PREMATURE: Sometimes you -can't- go to the fourfold approach because the two 'dichotomized' alternatives are unclear. Not yet defined. Or improperly defined: altruism vs. egoism. The key is not to think in terms of neither or both but to break apart the egoism choice into nietzschean egoism and rational egoism by means of clearly defining one's terms as Rand did.

Again, the task is to find the right questions/alternatives to replace the false dichotomy. In this case, the two alternatives are sacrifice self to others vs. do not sacrifice self to others and sacrifice others to self vs. do not sacrifice others to self. Sacrificing self to others but not others to self is garden-variety altruism. Sacrificing others to self but not self to others is Nietzschean/Stirnirite egoism. Sacrificing neither self to others nor others to self is Randian rational egoism. And sacrificing others to self and self to others is a hideous, impossible, round-robin, Dionysean orgy of sacrifice. (You don't even want to go there.)

4. ONLY TWO CHOICES: Sometimes there -are- only two choices. When choosing both or neither is a logical impossibility. These are the A vs. non-A situations which occur constantly. Being an honest man or not, being productive or not, being in focus or not. Once one has - very precisely - defined the limits and context of what one means by productive, honest, in focus. I would argue that you are mistaken in including (Lecture Two, numbers 9 and 10) these as examples of four alternatives: --false alternative of truth vs. falsity --false alternative of "The King of France is bald" vs. "The King of France is not bald."

In fact each of these is a true instance of what Aristotle would call "either-or". As he explained, once you completely specify what you mean by bald (and assuming existence -that France has a king not a queen), what percent of hair and on what part of the head constitutes baldness means one of these two statements is false and the other true. Similarly, once you have a meaningful statement (positing the existence of some entity, action, attribute), it's either true or false.

I agree that there are sometimes only two choices. That is when you have one and only one relevant true dichotomy. A meaningful statement is either true or false. It cannot be both true and false, because that would be a contradiction. And it cannot be neither true nor false, because that would mean it is a meaningless statement. But when we are considering statements that are not restricted to the universe of meaningful statements, there is a tetrachotomy operative. A statement which is both true and false (at the same time and in the same respect) is a metaphysical contradiction, and contradictions cannot exist in reality, only in the statements of confused or perverted people; this is essentially the nihilist corner of this particular tetrachotomy. (Some tetrachotomies have one, some don't.) A statement which is neither true nor false is simply meaningless, and there are sadly far too many of those floating around, in and out of philosophy.

As for the King of France example, I am afraid that at least two separate philosophical problems are being confounded in your remarks. There is the issue of the truth status of statements whose subject term does not designate anything actually existing, and there is the issue of where to draw the line between the existence and non-existence of a particular attribute (a form of the Sorites paradox or problem). I am not intending to draw attention to the latter issue with my King of France example.

The standard approach is to begin by claiming that either "the King of France is bald" or that "the King of France is not bald." Since there is no such actually/presently existing person as the King of France, the further claim is made that neither sentence is true, but instead both are false -- and thus (in general) that contradictory statements about non-existent subjects (unlike contradictory statements about existing subjects) do not have opposite truth values, both instead being false. I do not regard this approach as satisfactory, and I see a rather straight-forward way to restate more clearly the opposing statements so that contradictory statements are seen to have opposite truth values, even when they're about non-existent subjects.

My way of doing this is to tetrachotomize it. Alternative 1: "The King of France is an actual man..." vs. "The King of France is not an actual man..." and Alternative 2: "...is bald" vs. "...is not bald." Combining these into the four tetrachotomous alternatives, you get (1) The King of France is an actual man who is bald -- false; its contradictory (2) The King of France is not an actual man who is bald -- true; (3) The King of France is an actual man who is not bald -- false; its contradictory (4) The King of France is not an actual man who is not bald -- true.

Voila, if I do say so myself. :)

Much of modern logic is built on its use of the doctrine of "existential import" to trash Aristotle's Square of Opposition and the principle that contradictories have opposite truth values, Copi and Kelley, and even very astute, but lesser-read Aristotelian logicians such as Henry Veatch, discuss this issue in their logic texts, and all accept, at least to some extent, the modern view -- and all are wrong, in my humble opinion. The King of France analysis I propose simply requires that you don't allow yourself to be mired down in the ambiguous original form of the problem, but instead restate it so that the implicit assertion of actual existence is clearly explicit. The tetrachotomy technique allows us to do this, as I showed above -- and it neatly cuts the Gordion Knot of the whole mess caused by the mirage of the problem of "existential import."

Why the professional Objectivist philosophers don't get this, and why a friggin' theme park trombonist has to be the one to spell it out for them, is a source of great puzzlement to me. But not to worry. When I write this all up in a book, I will not indulge in the Peikovian/Randian habit of insulting the professional academics. (The preface to OPAR was particularly embarrassing in that respect.) I may be naive, but I'd like to think that there might be several real philosophers out there who would be interested in what I have to say about applied logic (tetrachotomies) -- especially as applied to the field of logic itself.

REB

Phil, thanks for your questions. I hope that you can see that I have acknowledged and engaged your points -- and that I might even have convinced you on some of them!

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There's another possibility, folks. Perigo was invited to give a talk at the Summer Seminar this year.

Maybe the TAS people were trying to run interference in order to avoid open spats during the event.

Whatever...

I wish them luck.

So much for them.

--Brant

Ha ha ha! I never cease to be surprised. Well, now I buy Bidinotto's forums argument. Well, Portland is one of my favorite cities. I think I'll have to make the trek up there this year.My guess is they'll invite Joe Rowlands too :-).

Jim

Edited by James Heaps-Nelson
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There's another possibility, folks. Perigo was invited to give a talk at the Summer Seminar this year.

Maybe the TAS people were trying to run interference in order to avoid open spats during the event.

Whatever...

I wish them luck.

Michael

Holy Christ on Crutches -- is this for real???? Gahhhhh!!!!

You wish them luck? I wish them the consequences of their premises. They will need the luck you wish them to escape what I wish them.

REB

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Has the TAS Summer Seminar schedule been posted? Perigo has to come from New Zealand and that is an expansive proposition.

Sorry, Chris, but that typo -- expAnsive -- is too appropriate to pass by. ;-) "ExpAnsive proposition," both geographically and bloviatingly indeed.

If they really are inviting Perrigo...how can they present any facade of intellectual seriousness?

Ellen

___

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When I first read this on here, I thought it was a joke and so just let it pass by. I've since heard it mentioned elsewhere - is he really going to be talking at TAS?

Edited by Fran
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Fran,

My initial reaction was the same as yours...

But, no, it's not a joke.

I just called the TAS office and got a confirmation that Lindsay Perigo will be speaking at the Summer Seminar.

Robert Campbell

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I just called the TAS office and got a confirmation that Lindsay Perigo will be speaking at the Summer Seminar.

I couldn't conceive of any other action that would better validate Diana Hsieh's assessment of TAS/TOC. Truly unbelievable. And a real slap in the face of everyone who used to be involved with SOLOHQ. This certainly elevates unnecessary appeasement to a new high and redefines what it means to mend a fence. Stick a fork in 'em. They're done.

Regards,

--

Jeffery Small

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Jeffery,

As I see it, David Kelley dodged a bullet when he offered Lindsay Perigo a job back in the late '90s, then Mr. Perigo pitched a fit over one of Roger Donway's articles in the Navigator and decided he wasn't going to take the job.

TAS dodged a smaller bullet in 2006 when Mr. Perigo agreed to give a talk and then backed out.

I think their best hope now is that Mr. Perigo will launch into another tirade between now and late June, resulting in the cancellation of his scheduled appearance.

Robert Campbell

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I think their best hope now is that Mr. Perigo will launch into another tirade between now and late June, resulting n the cancellation of his scheduled appearance.

Robert:

Maybe it should have been clear when he was asked to speak again in 2006. Now however, I no longer think it matters whether Perigo speaks or not. TAS has convinced me that they are effectively bankrupt. It's sad.

Regards

--

Jeffery Small

Edited by Jeffery Small
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Anybody up for a book-signing with speech nearby on the day? For instance, we could have both Barbara and Nathaniel Branden do a book-signing of their respective bios and autobios of Rand at, say, Barnes and Nobles or whatever, and I could present a speech along the lines of "Drooling Beast Revisted," or "Why do You Think They Think?" or even "Theory versus Practice: The Peter Principle Applied to the Pyramid of Ability in the Objectivist Movement."

:)

Sorry, folks. I just can't take any of this seriously. My concept of Objectivism is so very different than this inconsistency. To me, rationality has a specific meaning—not something that morphs at whim.

Dayaamm!

Michael

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I keep thinking Objectivism - Ayn Rand = Zero

Certainly, that's true in my case. I know I'm a second-hander philosophically, however gratefully. I also think it's true that breakthrough ideas belong to the 30-somethings. In Rand's case, it was The Fountainhead (arguably). Where would Perigo or TAS or REB be without Rand? Just asking.

W.

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