Philip Coates

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Something similar happened with a new TV adaptation of Simenon's Maigret, played by Rowan Atkinson (Mr. Bean..). In general the reviews were not bad, but to me Atkinson is a definite miscast as Maigret, who in the books is described as a big man with an imposing physique (although he practically never fights in the stories). The rather skinny Atkinson isn't a bad actor, but he's no Maigret. He's also too one-dimensional in his acting, too much brooding, dark looking and being silent. No comparison to such great Maigret interpreters as Jean Gabin or Bruno Cremer. Anyway, Maigret should speak French, not English...

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57 minutes ago, Max said:

Something similar happened with a new TV adaptation of Simenon's Maigret, played by Rowan Atkinson (Mr. Bean..). In general the reviews were not bad, but to me Atkinson is a definite miscast as Maigret, who in the books is described as a big man with an imposing physique (although he practically never fights in the stories). The rather skinny Atkinson isn't a bad actor, but he's no Maigret. He's also too one-dimensional in his acting, too much brooding, dark looking and being silent. No comparison to such great Maigret interpreters as Jean Gabin or Bruno Cremer. Anyway, Maigret should speak French, not English...

I think I saw an episode of this, I was just flipping channels and stopped when I saw him.  It wasn't a comic role at all.  It seemed good to me, though.  But as a comic actor he's simply off the charts, IMO.

 

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17 hours ago, 9thdoctor said:

Anyone miss Phil?  No.

Correct.

After Phil left, I worried that I might miss his entertaining stupidity, but it turns out that there is always someone at OL ready to fill in for Phil, and even take it to a higher level.

J

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On 11/15/2018 at 5:32 PM, 9thdoctor said:

Anyone miss Phil?

Dennis,

Without trying to make a quip (and, boy, is the temptation compelling :) ), I haven't thought about Phil in a long, long time. I'm only talking about him right now because of your post.

So, no, I guess I don't miss him. 

Whodda thunk it? Re Phil, I really am in the mode of: "But I don't think of you."

:)

Now that I am thinking about him, though, I do have an unanswered question. But I have a speculation about it.

I only met him once at an O-Land convention. He was charming, funny, and very pleasant to be around. This is the opposite of what he was online. I've wondered what makes people like that. And Phil was such a perfect example. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, so to speak. I wanted to ask him back when he was active on OL what it was like, why he did it, etc., but there was no way to go into that online with a person like him and get an informational answer. It would just be more mind games, thin skin, control freak crap and so on.

But, really, Phil is a good person in person. Maybe when he puts written words down, he imagines it's for eternity and he has a huge responsibility to never be wrong or never condone this or that or whatever. Maybe he thinks speaking in person is for living in the here and now, so mistakes are OK, but writing is for posterity and has to be never wrong. In other words, I think it's a good possibility he created a writer role for himself and it kicked his ass every time he had to play it--on top of irritating the daylights out of everyone else around.

Oh, the irony. Despite all that conflict in countless posts, he never did his writer role right. He got a lot wrong down in writing and now it's here for eternity.

 :) 

Michael

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I do a welfare check on Phil every six months/year or so.  He is fine in Florida, happy, buried his mother who died at 105, and is teaching locally, including a course on Fake News. I get the impression he thinks all who remain here are mad. Mad, I say!

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I read 20 or so of Childs Reacher series until I said enough. I dipped in for his last one, Past Tense, where the author channels the monosyllabic tone of Reacher through all of his undifferentiated characters.

Michael Connelly and his Bosh and step brother Mickey Haller characters are my favorite so far. Written by a crime scene investigative journalist in crime ridden La where there is plenty to pull from. If anything his books story line increase in intensity.  A Darkness More Than Light and its later day The Poet are masterpieces. 

Tim Tigner is awesome too. 

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19 hours ago, turkeyfoot said:

I read 20 or so of Childs Reacher series until I said enough. I dipped in for his last one, Past Tense, where the author channels the monosyllabic tone of Reacher through all of his undifferentiated characters.

Michael Connelly and his Bosh and step brother Mickey Haller characters are my favorite so far. Written by a crime scene investigative journalist in crime ridden La where there is plenty to pull from. If anything his books story line increase in intensity.  A Darkness More Than Light and its later day The Poet are masterpieces. 

Tim Tigner is awesome too. 

I just bought Past Tense which came out on November 5th. Dark Sacred Night a Harry Bosch book by Michael Connelly came out Oct. 30, 2018 and I may buy it.

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On 11/16/2018 at 2:05 PM, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

I only met him once at an O-Land convention. He was charming, funny, and very pleasant to be around. This is the opposite of what he was online. I've wondered what makes people like that. And Phil was such a perfect example.

I only took that shot because I saw the story (about a new series without Cruise) and remembered there'd been a discussion here, so I thought I'd append it to the thread.  Then I got a big reminder of what a pointless asshole Phil was.  I wasn't even knocking Tom Cruise that hard, and I get this kind of reaction:

On 11/16/2018 at 2:05 PM, Michael Stuart Kelly said:
On 10/27/2011 at 11:15 PM, Philip Coates said:

Subject: The usual ND stupidity

> Jack Reacher...he’s tall...will soon be portrayed on film by Tom Cruise. ..This is like casting someone blond and clean shaven as Blackbeard. [ND]

That's a nonessential issue.

First, the novels don't make an issue of his height and anyway movies are filmed in a way that don't reveal Cruise's height. And secondly, your analogy isn't even intelligent: You could cast someone blond as Blackbeard; just die his hair.

 

On 10/28/2011 at 4:02 PM, Philip Coates said:

> the novels don't make an issue of his height and anyway movies are filmed in a way that don't reveal Cruise's height.

Notice how Nihilist Dipshit, the logician, makes a counter-claim to point 1 but ignores point 2, and thinks that he has provided a complete rebuttal.

 

"Nihilist Dipshit", I mean really.  At this point it's safe to say I've been proven right.  Though I saw both of the movies with Cruise, and thought they pretty good.  I particularly liked Werner Herzog in the first one. 

20 hours ago, Peter said:

I just bought Past Tense which came out on November 5th. Dark Sacred Night a Harry Bosch book by Michael Connelly came out Oct. 30, 2018 and I may buy it.

I liked Night School

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On 11/16/2018 at 3:29 PM, william.scherk said:

I do a welfare check on Phil every six months/year or so.  He is fine in Florida, happy, buried his mother who died at 105, and is teaching locally, including a course on Fake News. I get the impression he thinks all who remain here are mad. Mad, I say!

Thanks! I like Phil. He would not think me mad, I says.

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High Praise from Childs for Don Winslows writing.

"Intensely human in its tragic details, positively Shakespearean in its epic sweep, The Force is probably the best cop novel ever written."

Reading The Cartel along with watching Ozarks on Netflix. What a ride!

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7 hours ago, Starbuckle said:

"Anyone miss Phil?  No."

Wow.
 

S,

I don't understand this "wow."

As I said above, I haven't thought about Phil in a long time. How can one miss what one doesn't think about?

On the other hand, when Phil was around, because he was constantly trying to control other people, at times he was all I thought about. And I didn't think about him in a pleasant or productive way.

Notice, I have a forum. He doesn't.

He doesn't know enough about human nature to keep a group going unless the group is mandated by a bureaucracy like a school or something like that. 

Human nature exists. A is A, law of identity and so on. Those who don't accept reality don't do well with it. And human nature does exist in reality.

Shoulds are for the future, but they have to start in the present with reality as it exists, not as one wants it to be. Phil's chronic mistake was that he always wanted his shoulds (about others) in the present as a starting point instead of reality. When humans acted like humans instead of what he thought humans should be, then he would get frustrated and start trying to boss people around with finger-wagging.

His presence was a constant irritation to people who wanted to think and talk about ideas instead of thinking and talking about Phil and his little games. 

btw - He has a good mind. He's just limited emotionally.

Michael

 

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1 hour ago, Brant Gaede said:

Phil went off the rails and wouldn't/couldn't get back on.

--Brant

at least not here

Alas, poor Phillip. I thought he added something here. I looked for any old Phil Coates letters and found this, which has some substance. Peter

From: "Philip Coates" To: "owl" Subject: OWL: The Hostage Principle -- Short Form Date: Sat, 4 May 2002 00:48:43 -0700 Subject: The Hostage Principle -- Short Form/ Because I'm job hunting I don't have time now for long time-consuming posts to this list, but this philosophical principle is _extremely_ important right now . . . and is in fact a life and death issue in terms of the war on terrorism and whether we are going to win it:

I've been corresponding with a libertarian leader who takes the position of what seems to be the overwhelming majority of the leadership of the libertarian movement who have joined forces with the far left on this issue (a position which is so anti-life and anti-commonsense that it threatens to marginalize the libertarian movement, to undo the progress they have made in the last twenty years, and make to them a laughing stock in the country).

This position is applied to any innocent civilians who are killed by the U.S. in the war on terrorism in Afghanistan. It is also applied to the Israelis when they invade the West Bank, trying to root out terrorists. It was applied decades ago to Hiroshima (whose purpose was to shorten that war . . and ultimately to save lives):

 >How can the killings of non-combatants by the US government, intentional or not -- possibly be legally or morally allowed?

I first ran across this argument stated by Murray Rothbard when I sat in on a class he gave in NYC. He stated that if the Soviet Union were to launch a nuclear attack on the United States and kill millions of people, the U.S. would be morally wrong to retaliate with a second strike because it would kill more millions of people in the Soviet Union, the overwhelming majority of whom were innocent.

I was aghast and horrified that this influential libertarian was spouting such a grotesquely false and twisted (and suicidal) version of the non-initiation of force principle. I pointed out the following to him in a letter I titled "The Hostage Principle" (I gave a copy to Dr. Peikoff and Harry Binswanger...and a couple years later I heard some people in Oist circles referring to the hostage principle...but I wasn't given credit for it or its title, if I recall):

<This is a very short, terse, essentialized form of the argument...I don't deal in this post with the whole set of 'fog of war' issues or apply it to a wide range of circumstances and varying contexts . . . nor do I deal with cases in which an alternative solution to 'collateral damage' is possible.>

1. Suppose a robber walks into a bank and grabs the first person standing by the door as a human shield. Holds him in front of this body and starts shooting at the guard, trying to kill him. Only way guard can survive is to shoot thru the hostage.

2. Result: Self-defense in some cases (this one) requires that you kill an innocent non-combatant.

3. Conclusion: U.S. law (properly) places full moral blame for the deaths on the person who placed the innocents in the position of shields or hostage.

4. In a certain metaphysical sense, the aggressor is the _cause_ of the deaths of the innocents, of civilians, of non-combatants and of any collateral damage which is unavoidable in the process of self-defense.

5. Application: Now apply this on a larger scale. Apply this to war in which the civilian population (of both countries) are used as hostages or shields by the aggressor.

6. Alternative: If you can't defend yourself if innocents or non-combatants die in the process, you must become a pacifist -- it becomes immoral to defend yourself against a sufficiently ruthless aggressor.

No defender could ever win a war or discourage aggression this way. The aggressor would merely insure that the body count of innocents would be high and would win immediately. --Philip Coates

RAND QUOTE 1: Q: What should be done about the killing of innocent people in war?

AR: This is a major reason people should be concerned about the nature of their government. Certainly, the majority in any country at war is innocent. But if by neglect, ignorance, or helplessness, they couldn't overthrow their bad government and establish a better one, then they must pay the price for the sins of their governments we are all paying for the sins of ours. If some people put up with dictatorships some of them do in Soviet Russia, and some of them did in Nazi Germany then they deserve what their government deserves. There are no innocent people in war. Our only concern should be: who started that war? If you can establish that a given country did it, then there is no need to consider the rights of that country, because it has initiated the use of force, and therefore stepped outside the principle of right. I've covered this in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, where I explain why nations as such do not have any rights, only individuals do. END

Ayn Rand question and answer session

QUOTE 2 Q: Assume a war of aggression was started by the Soviet Union; assume also that within the Soviet Union, there were individuals opposed to the Soviet system. How would you handle that?

AR: I'll pretend I'm taking the question seriously, because this question is blatantly wrong. I cannot understand how anyone could entertain the question. My guess is that the problem is context-dropping. The question assumes that an individual inside a country can and should be made secure from the social system under which he lives and which he accepts, willingly or unwillingly (even if he is fighting it he still accepts it because he hasn't left the country), and that others should respect his rights and collapse to aggression themselves. This is the position of the goddamned pacifists, who wouldn't fight, even when attacked, because they might kill innocent people. If this were so, nobody would have to be concerned about his country's political system. But we should care about having the right social system, because our lives are dependent on it because a political system, good or bad, is established in our name, and we bear the responsibility for it. So if we fight a war, I hope the "innocent" are destroyed along with the guilty. There aren't many innocent ones; those that exist are not in the big cities, but mainly in concentration camps. But nobody should put up with aggression, and surrender his right of self- defense, for fear of hurting somebody else, guilty or innocent. When someone comes at you with a gun, if you have an ounce of self-esteem, you will answer him with force, never mind who he is or who stands behind him. If he's out to destroy you, you owe it to your own life to defend yourself. END

From Ayn Rand...

PLAYBOY: What about force in foreign policy? You have said that any free nation had the right to invade Nazi Germany during World War II   . . .

RAND: Certainly.

PLAYBOY: . . . And that any free nation today has the moral right -- though not the duty -- to invade Soviet Russia, Cuba, or any other "slave pen." Correct?

RAND: Correct. A dictatorship -- a country that violates the rights of its own citizens -- is an outlaw and can claim no rights. End of Rand quote

Honesty as an Objectivist virtue, from OPAR quote (all that follows is a quote until I say end of quote)

"Conventional moralists usually regard honesty as a form of altruism. They regard it as the selfless renunciation of all the values one could have obtained by preying on the naiveté of one's fellows. Objectivism discards any such notion. In both its forms - honesty with oneself and to one's fellows - the present virtue, like every other, in an expression of egoism. Every virtue defines an aspect of the same complex achievement, the one on which man's survival depends: the achievement of remaining true to that which exists.

We can now deal summarily with the issue of "white lies." The ethical status of a lie is not affected by the identity of its intended beneficiary. A lie that undertakes to protect other men from the facts represents the same anti-reality principle as the con-man variety; it is just as immoral and just as impractical. A man does no service to his fellows by becoming their accomplice in blindness. Nor does he gain any moral credit thereby; an improper practice is not improved by attaching to it an altruistic justification. If anything, the latter merely compounds the evil. It removes the liar a step further from reality.

Is honesty then an absolute?

Just as particular objects must be evaluated in relation to moral principles, so moral principles themselves must be defined in relation to the facts that make them necessary. Moral principles are guides to life-sustaining action that apply within a certain framework of conditions. Like all scientific generalizations, therefore, moral principles are absolutes within their conditions. They are absolutes - contextually . . . A man is obliged to practice what he preaches - when he has the political freedom to do it. But he has no obligation to preach or practice any idea that would invite the attention, say, of the Gestapo or the IRS.

The same approach applies to the interpretation of honesty. The principle of honesty, the Objectivist view, is not a divine commandment or a categorical imperative. It does not state that lying is wrong "in itself'" and thus under all circumstances, even when a kidnapper asks where one's child is sleeping (the Kantians do interpret honesty this way). But one may not infer that honesty is therefore "situational," and that every lie must be judged "on its own merits," without reference to principle. This kind of alternative, which we hear everywhere, is false. It is another case of Intrinisicism vs. Subjectivism preempting the philosophical field.

Lying is absolutely wrong - under certain conditions. It is wrong when a man does it in the attempt to obtain a value. But, to take a different kind of case, lying to protect one's values from criminals is not wrong. If and when a man's honesty becomes a weapon that kidnappers or other wielders of force can use to harm him, then the normal context is reversed; his virtue would then become a means serving the ends of evil. In such a case, the victim has not only the right but also the obligation to lie and to do it proudly. The man who tells a lie in this context is not endorsing any anti-reality principle. On the contrary, he is now the representative of the good and the true; the kidnapper is the one at war with reality (with the requirements of man's life). Morally the con-man and the lying child-protector are opposites. The difference is the same as that between murder and self-defense.

There are other than criminals or dictators to whom it is moral to lie. For example, lying is necessary and proper in certain cases to protect one's privacy from snoopers. An analysis covering such detail belongs, however, in a treatise on ethics.

In discussing integrity, I said that to be good is to be good "all the time." I can be more precise now. To be good is to obey moral principles faithfully, without a moments exception, within the relevant context- which one must, therefore, know and keep in mind. Virtue does not consist in obeying concrete-bound rules ("Do not lie, do not kill, do not accept help from others, make money, honor your parents, etc.") No such rules can be defended or consistently practiced; so people throw up their hands and flout all rules.

The proper approach is to recognize that virtues are broad abstractions, which one must apply to concrete situations by a process of thought. In the process, one must observe all the rules of correct epistemology, including definition by essentials and context-keeping. This is the only way there is to know what is moral - or to be honest." end of quote

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These old letters may be of interest too. I see Merlin, Roger and Phil Coates wrote some of the following. What a bunch of smarty pants! Do you understand any of this? Peter

From: PaleoObjectivist To: atlantis Subject: ATL: reason, volition, and Peikoff's alleged distortions, part 2 Date: Thu, 21 Nov 2002 03:56:36 EST

Note to Atlantis members: this post, while intended to support George Smith's critique of Ellen Moore's recent comments about reason and volition, is based largely upon remarks made to this list back in June of 2000. ==============================================

Ellen Moore has engaged in numerous lengthy, erroneous attempts to support her claim that Leonard Peikoff distorted and contradicted Ayn Rand's views on the relationship between reason and volition. She has stated that "...the faculty of volition is distinct from, and primary to the faculty of reason. Volition is metaphysical and axiomatic. Reason is complex, derivative and epistemological. Each belongs in a different category within the ordered hierarchy of Objectivist theory."

This is not at all in accord with Peikoff's authorized statement of Rand's philosophy in 1975/6 lectures, never later repudiated by Rand. It is Ellen Moore who is misrepresenting Objectivism's view of the nature of volition.

1. In lecture 1, "Man's Metaphysical Nature," reason -- not volition -- was the very first thing Peikoff discussed, and he called it "the first crucial tenet of the Objectivist view of man's metaphysical nature... the FUNDAMENTAL tenet of which all the rest of tonight's points are elaborations or consequences. Man is the rational being, by which I mean not that he necessarily always ~uses~ the faculty of reason, but that he is the being who ~possesses the faculty~ and, above all, the being who ~survives by its use~, by the use of reason. (caps added for additional emphasis) Also (next paragraph), "The role of reason in human survival is a METAPHYSICAL FACT." (caps added)

2. In the same lecture, as his ~fourth~ point, Peikoff turns to the issue of determinism vs. free will. Are we independent, autonomous beings? Is man "a being of self-made soul"? "Is the mind volitional? Is free will true?" And "how do we know"? Peikoff postpones the validation of free will not to lecture 2 on metaphysics, but to lecture 3 on ~epistemology~! So, although he states free will as an important tenet of Objectivism's view of the metaphysical nature of man, he states it ~fourth~ after his point about the faculty of reason being ~fundamental~ to man's metaphysical nature, and as an "elaboration or consequence" of his point about the rational faculty.

3. ~Neither~ reason nor volition is axiomatic, despite any mis-statements by Peikoff to the contrary. At the end of lecture 2 "Metaphysics", he states:

(1) Reason as man's means of knowledge -- well, obviously there could be no reason apart from a reality which is what it is independent of consciousness, and consciousness is the faculty of perceiving it. In other words: existence, consciousness, identity, the Primacy of Existence. All of these are the metaphysical ~roots~ of the concept of reason, which couldn't stand or be conceived without it.

(5) As to man being a man of self-made soul, tonight we laid down the base of this, namely he ~has~ a soul, in other words, a consciousness, and it has the power to perceive existence. Next week we'll BUILD ON THAT FOUNDATION AND ESTABLISH FREE WILL and man's autonomy. (caps added)

Although Peikoff fails to consistently apply the distinction that is called for by his definitions of "axiom" and "corollary", that distinction is clearly drawn, both in his 1991 book and in his 1975/6 lecture on metaphysics (#2 in the series). And since Rand was present at and did not object or demand a correction to Peikoff's 1975/6 lecture, it is logical to assume that his definitions were representative of the way ~she~ looked at the difference between them. She must have regarded his formulations as superior to anything she previously said. In other words, she probably regarded Peikoff's statements as the up-to-date, authoritative definitions of her view of axioms and corollaries. Otherwise, you can bet she would have raised a fuss, especially if she thought there was anything wrong or misleading in them!

So, given that accord between them, let me lay out the full extent of the distinction, so that you can see more clearly that volition and reason are, at most, corollaries, not axioms.

First of all, Peikoff in 1975/6, with no objection from Rand, said about existence, identity, and consciousness that "Being philosophic axioms, they are at the foundation of ~all~ other concepts." (Do you hear me, Ellen Moore? ALL OTHER CONCEPTS! 🙂 Without going any further, it is clear that Volition, Reason, etc. are not to be viewed as philosophic axioms, but as something else, which Peikoff first spells out later in his discussion of the Primacy of Existence.

Using the Primacy of Existence as an example, Peikoff states that corollaries are "not independent of the axioms of consciousness, existence, identity," but instead "simply an elaboration, an explicit chewing or fuller discussion of what those axioms imply." A corollary is "not a new point," but "a self-evident implication of the axioms." Peikoff defines corollary as "the self-evident implication of already established knowledge." A corollary, he says, is "not directly by itself self-evident," but "requires some clarification or elaboration." On the other hand, it's not possible or necessary to provide a separate argument or formal proof for a corollary, as you do with syllogistic conclusions like "Socrates is mortal," reasoning step by step from separate premises. A corollary has intermediate status. "It's like an axiom in the sense that once you have grasped its meaning and roots, it is self-evident, but it is a new angle on an axiom. It's not like an axiom in that you must ~first~ grasp the truth on which the corollary depends, the particular issues of which it is an implication. And once you grasp them, you see that the corollary is an obvious, self-evident followup." (Lecture 2, Metaphysics)

Now, from that alone, it should be clear that propositions like the Primacy of Existence are not axioms but corollaries of the primary axioms. Yet, Peikoff repeatedly glitches and refers to them as both corollaries ~and~ axioms. This indicates to me the difficulty (for him and others) in applying the distinction. People get stuck on the commonalities between axioms and corollaries and lump them all together as "axioms", in disregard of their differences.

Also, it's interesting to note that in Peikoff's development of the different points in the metaphysics and epistemology, he shows that Primacy of Existence is a corollary of the three primary axioms, and that the Law of Causality ("the Law of Identity applied to action", as Rand said in AS) is a corollary of the Primacy of Existence, that "the Objectivist view of cause and effect represents the Primacy of Existence applied to the topic of causality." Now, in my book, a corollary of a corollary is a corollary! Yet, Peikoff also glitches and refers to the Law of Causality as an "axiom." See my point? He later does the same with the Validity of the Senses and Human Consciousness as Volitional.

Human Consciousness as Volitional, whether or not it is the "could-have-done-otherwise" sort of thing Rand et al argue it is, at least denotes the ability of humans to initiate and direct the action of their consciousness. Thus, Volition is the application of the axiom of Consciousness and the Law of Causality (a corollary of the Primacy of Existence, which is itself a corollary of the Big Three) to the action of human consciousness. I say it this way, because volition is supposed to be a category of causality, as Peikoff and Rand claim, and I agree with the caveat made above. However, you could simplify it, if you wanted to set aside the causality issue, and say that Volition is the application of the axiom of Consciousness and the Law of Identity to the action of human consciousness. That is the approach Ellen Moore takes, but she doesn't realize that she has left the axiom level and is developing Volition as a ~corollary~ of the axioms.

OK, on to ~reason~, briefly. Again, as Peikoff states in his 1975/6 lecture: ...obviously there could be no reason apart from a reality which is what it is independent of consciousness, and consciousness is the faculty of perceiving it. In other words: existence, consciousness, identity, the Primacy of Existence. All of these are the metaphysical ~roots~ of the concept of reason, which couldn't stand or be conceived without it. * * * * * * * *

I turn now to Ellen's claim that Peikoff misrepresented Rand's views by re-italicizing her original statement "The faculty of REASON is the faculty of volition" (Rand: 1969, 1971, 1975) to read "The faculty of reason IS the faculty of volition: (Peikoff: 1975/6, 1991).

Ellen writes: "Peikoff's statement which I claim is a contradiction of Rand's meaning is this: 'The faculty of reason IS the faculty of volition.' My contention is that he changed her meaning in two significant ways. He changed her emphasis, and he claims an identity between reason and volition that contradicts her meaning in any other context of using these terms.. Why did Peikoff change the formulation of Rand's sentence, and WHY did he fail to follow the reason she explained in that essay?"

And what is that explanation that supposedly fails to justify Peikoff's change in italicization? Ellen Moore claims: "She [Rand] was explaining that early Romanticism was based on 'the PRIMACY OF EMOTIONS' (p. 104). and (p. 105). Rand wrote: 'The still deeper issue, the fact that REASON is the faculty of volition was not known at the time, and the various theories of free will were for the most part of an anti-rational character, thus reinforcing the association of volition with mysticism. The Romanticists saw their cause primarily as a battle for their right to individuality - unable to grasp the deepest metaphysical justification of their cause, unable to identify their values in terms of reason - they fought for individuality in terms of FEELINGS, surrendering the banner of reason to their enemies."

Why did the Romanticists abdicate the task of championing reason? As Rand notes, they were unable to grasp the metaphysical basis of free will. Ellen Moore, however, thinks that this refers to Rand's "objective validation of HUMAN VOLITIONAL CONSCIOUSNESS which IS the particular distinction between Man and all other species. (~Virtue of Selfishness~, p. 20, EM's italics)

Incredibly, Ellen Moore concludes: "When I read these pages, I understood that she meant that the faculty of REASON is derived from the deepest metaphysical justification which IS human volitional consciousness. Her sentence emphasized REASON, not "is", and she meant that both faculties were functions of Human Consciousness. In fact, if her basic philosophical hierarchy is understood and applied, then one will know that the faculty of reason is dependent on and derived from its root in the faculty of conscious volition-- which is the attribute of action by a human consciousness. Consciousness is a metaphysical axiom. When her meaning is understood in this way there is no justification for Peikoff changing the emphasis of her statement to suit his own."

This is a ~total~ misreading of Rand's words in "What is Romanticism?" It is crystal clear from the context that on pages 104 and 105 of this essay, Rand is walking us down through layers of deeper organismic and metaphysical fundamentality. She starts with those who tried to define Romanticism in terms of primacy of the ~emotions~, and she points out that emotions are the consequence of ~values~, that values are rooted in ~volition~, and finally that it is the faculty of ~reason~ (not feelings or some mystical faculty) that is the faculty of ~volition~. She nails down this progression on p. 106 when she says: "...volition is a function of man's rational faculty."

There are several important insights to gain from the foregoing: When Rand italicized "reason" in saying that "the faculty of ~reason~ is the faculty of volition," she was saying that all those who tried to equate or identify volition with feelings or mysticism were wrong, that the faculty which should be equated or identified with the faculty of volition is not the faculty of emotions or a supposed faculty of mystical power, but the faculty of ~reason~. This is an important point in the context of Rand's discussion of the historical development of Romanticism, and it explains why she italicized "reason" in that sentence. But even ~with~ "reason" italicized, you ~still~ have the word "is" to explain. We still have Rand's basic statement identifying the faculty of reason and the faculty of volition -- and like it or not, that ~is~ how Rand viewed the two faculties in 1969, 1971, and 1975 when her essay was first published, then reprinted in the first and second editions of ~The Romantic Manifesto~, and she never recanted that belief. Peikoff would have been perfectly right to simply state the sentence ~that~ way. But in italicizing "is" instead, he did ~not~ commit any heretical or dishonest distortion of Rand's views. Rand was underscoring the fact that it is the faculty of ~reason~, not the faculty of emotion, etc., that is identical with the faculty of volition. Peikoff was underscoring the fact that the faculty of reason is ~identical~ with the faculty of volition, and that the faculty of reason-and-volition is the ~rational faculty~.

Moreover, they are ~inseparable~ functions, like mind and body are inseparable. Peikoff says (lecture 1) that mind and body are indivisible aspects of a single integrated entity: man, and that they are indispensable to each other and to the total entity. He states this in contrast to the dominant view, the mind-body dichotomy. I submit that Ellen Moore is attempting to assert a reason-volition dichotomy and to place volition above reason. In claiming that you can use volition without reason (which I argue below is impossible), Ellen is taking a position that is disturbingly similar to the avowed mystics of the 19th century (e.g., Schopenhauer) who tried to elevate volition above reason.

You ~can't~ use reason without volition (deliberately directing it), and you ~can't~ deliberately direct your awareness without making the choice to use reason or not, an alternative which continues to assert itself at every point that you are using your volition to steer some other process instead. Reason is always there, operating, even if you're not actively focused on controlling its operation. As Rand has pointed out, if you don't actively drive your conceptual faculty, it continues to operate on a lower level, integrating by less clearly grasped criteria, so long as you are volitionally aware of ~something~. (For instance, if I volitionally choose to engage in a meditative exercise, my reason will continue to operate while I'm not actively running it, and it may even present me with the solution to a problem when I end the exercise, if not later.) The important thing is that as long as you are volitionally conscious of ~something~, you are also, on some level of awareness, also engaged in a process of reason -- and vice versa, of course. Just because we don't like the illogical or self-destructive results of the ~focal~ activity we use our minds in instead of reasoning, doesn't mean that we are not ~also~ (on a lower level) being rational. It just means that volition, being the director of our conscious processes, can ~subordinate~ reason to other processes, not ~eliminate~ it. To repeat: volition and reason are inseparable.

But granting that volition and reason are functions of the same faculty, and that they are inseparable, is Peikoff nonetheless out of bounds in saying that "reason IS will"? (p. 204, OPAR) Ellen Moore thinks so, and she reiterates her claim that Peikoff was intellectually dishonest in saying that they were identical. She quotes Peikoff's explanation from a conference in 1990 and says it is sloppy and false. I disagree.

The key point in Ayn Rand is that she refuses to oppose reason and will. In fact, will is not even something over and above reason. ...The faculty of reason is the faculty of volition because we don't have ten faculties in there. [....] There's just the conceptual faculty and it happens to be volitional. As it exercises itself, as you exercise it, you are at the same moment, if you are engaged in a thought process, reasoning and choosing. Every step of your reasoning is a step of choosing, willing, selecting this alternative or that one, this way or that, pause on this or not. You can't engage in reasoning without continuous willing so that there are two different concepts. One names the overall faculty of knowledge, the other identifies the aspect that is volitional, that a process of will is required. BUT YOU CAN THINK THAT REASON AND WILL ARE RELATED LIKE EXISTENCE AND IDENTITY. It's two different concepts to stand for one INDIVISIBLE entity which is naming. Will is simply the name we give to the same faculty of reason when we think of it as being manifest in continuous volitional choices. BUT IT IS NOT A SEPARATE FACULTY that is a mystical add-on......

Ellen says that Peikoff's explanation is both sloppy and false. I disagree. Reason and Will are inseparable, and the concepts name the same faculty as seen from two different perspectives. Peikoff explains this quite well in Lecture 2 (Metaphysics), where he says that existence and identity are ~indivisible~ and the facts of existence and identity are ~inseparable~. He points out that using two concepts to name one fact is "very common in human knowledge in general and in philosophy in particular." He notes that: "We will see many other cases of it, cases where a single fact exists, but we have several different perspectives on it. We can regard that one fact from different aspects or in different contexts; and thus we formulate different concepts or identify the same one fact from these different perspectives."

Most importantly, Peikoff says that the ~reason~ for Rand's formulation "Existence IS Identity" is that the facts of existence and identity are ~inseparable~. That is, they are the ~same~ fact, as seen from different perspectives. This is also the case for Reason and Volition. They are the same fact, one's self- directed means of survival, as seen from different perspectives. So, contrary to Ellen Moore's claim, reason and volition ~are~ related like existence and identity. They are inseparable and indivisible actions of the human rational faculty.

Unfortunately, Peikoff ~MISIDENTIFIES~ volition as "axiomatic" on the supposed grounds that it has all the attributes of the other axioms. However, the attributes he lists are all shared by the ~corollaries~ (such as Primacy of Existence and Causality), too! And what he fails to integrate is the fact that volition ~differs~ from the axioms in that "you must ~first~ grasp the truth on which the corollary depends, the particular issues of which it is an implication. And once you grasp them, you see that the corollary is an obvious, self-evident followup." (Peikoff, lecture 2)

So, it's time for Ellen to decide whether she wants to ~have~ her Axiom of Volition or ~eat~ it, for she can't do both. If she wants to stamp her foot and insist that Volition is an axiom, in disregard of a mountain of evidence, she will have to reject Peikoff's Rand- approved distinction between and definitions of "axiom" and "corollary." If she wants to keep this valuable methodological distinction, introduced at the outset of Peikoff's Rand-approved lecture on metaphysics, then she ~must~ abandon her sacred cow, volition-as-axiom.

The reason Peikoff never claims Reason is axiomatic is because he explicitly identifies the concepts on which Reason is based. (See above.) The reason he ~sometimes~ claims Volition is axiomatic is because he ~screwed up~. From all that I have said above about Peikoff's Rand-endorsed presentation of axioms vs. corollaries, there should be no mistaking the fact that Volition ~cannot~ be an axiom, but (at most) a corollary of the other axioms. Peikoff's failure to integrate his view of volition with his definitions of "axiom" and "corollary" are his AND Rand's error. Since they are obvious ~logical~ errors, volition-as-axiomatic is ~not~ a coherent part of the Philosophy of Objectivism. It would be as if Rand had said "No Woman President" is an axiom. IT JUST DOESN'T FOLLOW FROM THE FOUNDATIONS OF OBJECTIVISM. This is probably one of the most no-brainer corrections we could ever make to Objectivism without being accused of heresy or misrepresentation. LET'S DO IT!

Now, it may be (though I doubt) that Peikoff was, as Ellen Moore claims, "evading his own knowledge of Rand's position, and contradicting her premises," when he wrote "The faculty of IS the faculty of volition," and when he claimed that reason and volition are related like existence and identity. If so, then Rand was evading it, too, for he stated it in his 1975/6 lectures which she attended and to which she attended with full focus, one hopes. 🙂 And he said that there were ~many~ such identity statements in philosophy, not just the two that Ellen Moore seems to think exhaust Rand's meager supply. Surely it's not unreasonable to take Peikoff's statement identifying the faculty of reason with the faculty of volition as one of them. Best 2 all, REB Roger E. Bissell, musician-writer

From: "merjet" To: "'atlantis'" Subject: ATL: Re: reason, volition, and Peikoff's alleged distortions, part 2 Date: Thu, 21 Nov 2002 11:23:35 -0600 Very interesting and good job, Roger! I am not steeped in this controversy and I don't have Peikoff's lecture tapes, but something occurred to me while reading it and I decided to air it.

It is about this statement, "The faculty of reason is the faculty of volition."

This is *my* take on the matter. I'm not claiming to be giving Rand's or Peikoff's view. The faculty is *human consciousness*. Reason and volition are attributes of it. So when Peikoff says this, he might be just saying that reason and volition are part of the same faculty, i.e. human consciousness, but quite possibly with a moral overtone.

I think my take is consistent with your saying: >Peikoff was underscoring the fact that the faculty of reason is ~identical~ with the faculty of volition, and that the faculty of reason-and-volition is the ~rational faculty~.

However, your way of saying it *sounds* circular: the faculty of reason is the rational faculty. And both Peikoff's and your way of saying it could be misconstrued as saying that reason and volition are one and the same thing, which they obviously are not. And Peikoff's way of saying it could be misconstrued as saying that reason is a part of volition or a function of volition, also incorrect. Reason and volition need to work together.

There may be a better analogy, but a car seems to fit.

Car <---> Human consciousness

Volition <---> Engine

Reason <---> Burning fuel

One could put some wrong kind of fuel in the tank (raw emotions or faulty judgments) and the engine (volition) won't run as well, and maybe not even fulfill the car's (human consciousness's) purpose.

A final point -- Peikoff is inconsistent in OPAR. The section heading on page 69 is "Volition as Axiomatic". Then on page 72 he says, "Volition, accordingly, is not an independent philosophic principle, but a corollary of the axiom of consciousness." Best regards, Merlin

From: "Philip Coates" To: "owl" Subject: OWL: Levels of Understanding Date: Tue, 8 Oct 2002 14:37:38 -0700 Subject: Levels of Understanding

 >what I first thought Rand was saying wasn't quite what Rand was actually saying. (Even Phil has made this point when he has mentioned that someone can't really understand O'ism until they've studied/lived it for years.) [Allen, 10/3]

That would be a rather imprecise formulation. Hopefully I didn't put it in those words independent of context, but if I did, let me clarify: There are several levels of understanding Rand. You can read a key concept in her political philosophy in an essay such as "Man's Rights". And it is not a difficult essay. It is possible for a reader to relatively quickly understand that she has a very distinctive and very precise concept of rights. That it is along the lines of the classic concept of 'negative rights' (freedom from interference) rather than 'positive rights' (a right to some good, such as a right to a job. A careful reader will also understand, since she spells it out, that when she discusses a right to freedom of expression, or property, or 'the right to life', she does _not_ mean that this right is 'balanced' by the kind of other everyday competing considerations, ('stakeholder rights', 'the public interest') that one often sees in decisions of the Supreme Court today.

So this aspect of Rand and of Objectivism can be _completely_ understood just from one essay.

But there may be other issues involving rights, such as issues of validation or answering objections or integration with other issues. Or application: how do they apply in many specific contexts: Should patent rights have a time limit? What happens to rights in emergency situations (lifeboat situations and wars)? What about quarantine and subpoena?

So that's a second level of understanding Objectivism. It often comes later in time and builds on the first. It doesn't mean that the first level was not well understood.

And there are other levels. Often involving the expansion of one's knowledge and breadth of integration.

It's a different level and a separate and later effort to integrate the concept of 'rights' with the anarchist idea (fallacy, actually) that one has a 'right' to delegate self-defense or retaliation to whoever one chooses based on whatever level of investigation one makes as to whether they intend to be scrupulous or not. To spot the fallacies requires a higher level of integration of rights, an integration with several other issues.

Plus, there are other areas of Objectivism which are more difficult than rights theory, requiring a different level of understanding (sometimes more abstract or with a more methodological focus). For the average person, the whole field of epistemology would qualify. For example, reading Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology for the first time is much less likely to be a bored "yeah, yeah, I already got that" kind of experience in the way that reading "Man's Rights" might be for those already exposed to the classical liberal tradition or to the ideas of the founding fathers.

In that sense, whether or not you "get" some aspect of Objectivism quickly or slowly may depend on your own context...how much or how little you have been exposed to similar ideas (or methods of thinking) in the past.

In the case of ITOE, the chances are you've never seen anything remotely like this before or on this level. If you're a good introspector, you know that you are going to have to come back and carefully reread this several times over a period of years because, as Allen mentions, you sense on some level that you may find what you "thought Rand was saying wasn't quite what Rand was actually saying".

One level that ITOE forces you to reach if you are to fully understand it (Rand may have forced this on you before, or you may have achieved it earlier in life) is tremendous precision in language. She uses words and phrases such as nominalism, realism, intrinsicism, implicit knowledge . . . and many others in almost mathematically precise ways.

(In regard to the difficulty of grasping epistemology, I'm reminded of a bizarre, rationalistic, uncomprehending, enormously destructive piece written by Bryan Register in JARS [vol 1, no. 2]. As one more piece of evidence of the mistakes of 'highly academic thinkers', this is a student of Objectivism who is a graduate student in philosophy at a prestigious school and has attended many Objectivist conferences. But he just can't shake out of his head the idea that Rand is advocating "nominalism" in ITOE. Which is exactly one of the two major errors she is refuting. He didn't seem to have the humility to do the careful rereading several times until it sunk in what she was getting at. As one would expect, he also butchers the concepts 'realism' and 'intrinsicism'...apparently employing the usages of the analytic tradition in regard to these and attributing to her a set of views which she does not take anywhere. And then vigorously beating to death the straw philosophical thinker he has manufactured --- thereby causing enormous damage to the plausibility of Objectivism in the minds of any outsiders who would happen to read the piece and think that it represents careful thinking about Objectivism by knowledgeable insiders.)

The most advanced or difficult level of all is to integrate Objectivism fully into living life. There are more people still struggling with this than there are who think Rand is advocating nominalism in regard to universals or are unclear what she means by a moral law.

To summarize: One level of understanding is to grasp the basic position or idea or definition or theory and the often unique way she uses words. Another level is to integrate it with other views one has or hears on the same topic. Another level is to apply the position to complex or borderline cases. Another level is methodological: adopting Rand's precise and careful way of thinking about philosophical (not polemical) issues - and integrating them properly with other methodological tools from one's own discipline or experience. Another level is to take all this stuff and integrate it with all the details and complexity of living one's life. (Note: I'm not suggesting these levels divide up neatly in practice or come in this tidy a chronological sequence.) --Philip Coates

[Aside: The reason I entitled the post 'Levels of Understanding' rather than 'Levels of Understanding Objectivism' is because the principles I discuss apply to grasping any sufficiently sizable or extensive body of knowledge, academic discipline, methodology, or profession.]

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Is the under representation of women in O’land like a canary in a coal mine? Where have all the flowers gone? I think Phil was full of ideas and different interpretations. One more from Phil and then I will cease. Peter

From: "Philip Coates" To: "owl" Subject: OWL: What Happened to the Women? Date: Wed, 27 Mar 2002 13:06:20 -0800 Subject:  What Happened to the Women? Agreeing with and elaborating upon points made by Chris Baker [3/27]: > the crowd in 2001 seemed to be older. It was also more male.

When I lived in Southern California, I went out as a self-appointed activist to UCLA, USC, Cal Tech, UC Irvine, the Claremont-Pomona colleges, and three branches of the Cal State system (Northridge, Long Beach, and Fullerton). I postered up the campuses (with help). I announced, and started an Objectivist campus club at each. After the initial large meetings, attendance steadily dropped. The women, who had turned out in significant numbers for the first meeting, dropped away fastest of all as if someone had dropped a stink bomb.

This was irrefutable evidence of a process at work before my eyes. More broadly, the NBI era was before my time, but the percentage of women in the Objectivist movement since the time of the Peikoff lectures in New York (mid to late seventies) has fallen steadily.

>The most successful "movements" I have been involved with are mostly female.

Among the reasons for this are the fact that women in our culture (and in most cultures) are more tuned in to people, persuasion, conversation, social skills and other things that a movement needs in order to spread. (Rodney Stark has a fascinating discussion of this in "The Rise of Christianity", Ch. 5, The Role of Women in Christian Growth...and, no, this doesn't just apply to religions or mystical or irrational or purely emotional movements.)

Women don't have to dominate a movement for it to succeed, but if they are not well-represented . . . or desert it in droves, it has no chance.

The under representation of women does not _prove_ that Objectivism is in trouble (it's still early days), but it is at least a canary in the coal mine: Coal miners used to carry canaries or other small birds into coal mines. Coal mines can emit deadly, odorless, invisible gases. Small or sensitive animals would be overcome first, being more sensitive to these gases. If the canary drops dead, get the hell out of the mine.

Not to confuse women with delicate, fragile, small animals { there go my chances for finding a girlfriend this year 🙂 } but women incline more on average to be more aware of or sensitive to tendencies within the Objectivist movement toward emotional repression, geekish lack of social skills, arrogance, superiority, condescension, poor communication skills, etc. Exactly the things that will kill a movement or give it a bad reputation in articles in Vanity Fair or The New Yorker or among the press or academics.

 > A movement that is so overwhelmingly male...I would love to know why Objectivism is this way.

Like the canaries, women who attended those initial meetings of the eight campus clubs I started tended to "keel over dead" after a few meetings. Meetings too often dominated (some of the ones I attended) by people consumed with anger at the culture, focusing primarily on the negative not the positive, and in which the loudest or most adamant voices seemed to be interested in particle physics or other dry, analytic topics as opposed to, or to the exclusion of, emotional or inspirational topics or making friends. (Just like Oist email lists, very often.)

A broader and deeper point: The original Oism was led by a fiction writer and a psychologist and, if you look back at The Objectivist, many of the major writers who Rand worked with and helped develop were women (Kay Nolte Smith, Beatrice Hessen, Susan Ludel, Barbara Branden, Edith Efron, Erica Holzer, Mary Ann Sures...) and / or their primary interests or fields were the arts (painting, sculpture, theater), literature, film criticism, psychology (there was apparently a whole movement of Oist psychologists in the sixties). Today, the two Oist movements are led by academically-leaning philosophers (Peikoff and Kelley) whose professions and primary interests are a bit more technical and logical and epistemological and removed from the arts and psychology. And fewer women and a slightly less broad range of professional interests are represented in the next tier of Oist intellectuals, lecturers, writers.

Canary in the Coal Mine Number 2: I've been trying for years to get conferences (first TJS, then ARI, then TOC) to pack in one or two fewer lectures in a busy day and make a bit more room for more musical performances, talent shows, dances, community-building and social and emotional or inspiring events. These events still exist (or else I would stop attending summer conferences), but: (i) everyone in a position of authority (except for Edith Packer who is a psychologist and clearly understand the 'balance' issue) was essentially unresponsive to this, and (ii) the number of such events has actually decreased. These two facts are revealing in signifying (actions speak louder than words) that lectures-and-intellectual-content-trumps-everything is believed to be, essentially or overwhelmingly, what makes a philosophy or a movement successful or growing.

Before people start to bristle at criticism, let me point out: This does not mean that Peikoff, Kelley or the current movements do not do important or persuasive or high-level work. Nor does it mean that no one is writing anything in the humanities in areas other than technical philosophy or political commentary.

It _does_ mean that the breadth of appeal, the types and variety of audience (when was the last time you saw a black face at an Oist conference or event?), the range of disciplines is smaller than it was.

(This may be one reason for the three decade long shrinkage of the Oist central core from 20,000 to 6,000 which I mentioned in "Objectivism is in Trouble, Part I" [3/23]. I don't think it's just the schisms...other movements have schisms and hold onto their people as each submovement expands rapidly.)

If you doubt this 'breadth' issue, a good way to prove it to yourself in five minutes: Pick up the bound volume of the Objectivist or the Objectivist Newsletter and look at the table of contents.  --Philip Coates

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On 5/10/2019 at 9:05 AM, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

S,

I don't understand this "wow."

As I said above, I haven't thought about Phil in a long time. How can one miss what one doesn't think about?

On the other hand, when Phil was around, because he was constantly trying to control other people, at times he was all I thought about. And I didn't think about him in a pleasant or productive way.

Notice, I have a forum. He doesn't.

He doesn't know enough about human nature to keep a group going unless the group is mandated by a bureaucracy like a school or something like that. 

Human nature exists. A is A, law of identity and so on. Those who don't accept reality don't do well with it. And human nature does exist in reality.

Shoulds are for the future, but they have to start in the present with reality as it exists, not as one wants it to be. Phil's chronic mistake was that he always wanted his shoulds (about others) in the present as a starting point instead of reality. When humans acted like humans instead of what he thought humans should be, then he would get frustrated and start trying to boss people around with finger-wagging.

His presence was a constant irritation to people who wanted to think and talk about ideas instead of thinking and talking about Phil and his little games. 

btw - He has a good mind. He's just limited emotionally.

Michael

 

My only worry is that Phil might be attempting with his students what he tried to inflict on us. The man was aggressively psychologically needy, and so much so that his feeding his deficiencies overrode any value that he could bring to a discussion. Which says a lot, because he's a smart dude who can bring it. Satisfying the urge to control and punish was more important, more powerful than any subject. I hope he's fighting that urge when it comes to his students.

J

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