The congressional Republicans are harlots, trollops and whores


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On 10/17/2013 at 10:05 AM, caroljane said:

No need to worsen things by unfairly smearing a whole innocent group. Most of us are not even Republicans.

We demand an apology.

International Federation of Harlots and Trollops

Jeff Riggenbach died a few days ago at age 74. He was one of the most cantankerous people I ever had the misfortune of dealing with. Lord help you if you ended a sentence with “with” or misspelled a word. He would use that as an excuse to deal you twenty, verbal lashes. He was an incredible mean human being. An example.

From: "Jeff Riggenbach" To: "Atlantis" Subject: ATL: "The Human Brain" and Perception Date: Fri, 17 Aug 2001 00:03:09 -0700. Dennis May writes, with his trademark combination of the "aw shucks" manner and the air of absolute certainty: "Implantable senses are a reality today. Vision and auditory implants have been tested.  From my co-workers years ago in the Air Force I know that the human brain can directly perceive certain frequencies of microwaves as a high pitched whistle."

This is what I love about Dennis May, what makes him one of the greatest comedians of our time (though I admit I'm troubled by clues in his messages that suggest he is unaware of this comedy and perhaps doesn't intend it). A brain cannot perceive anything. Only a living entity, human or otherwise, can perceive. In the act of perception, the living entity's brain plays an important part, but it's far from the whole story. Even perception will never be understood if it is regarded by researchers as equivalent to events in brain tissue . . . .

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On 1/31/2021 at 12:37 PM, Peter said:

Jeff Riggenbach died a few days ago at age 74. He was one of the most cantankerous people I ever had the misfortune of dealing with. Lord help you if you ended a sentence with “with” or misspelled a word. He would use that as an excuse to deal you twenty, verbal lashes. He was an incredible mean human being. An example.

From: "Jeff Riggenbach" To: "Atlantis" Subject: ATL: "The Human Brain" and Perception Date: Fri, 17 Aug 2001 00:03:09 -0700. Dennis May writes, with his trademark combination of the "aw shucks" manner and the air of absolute certainty: "Implantable senses are a reality today. Vision and auditory implants have been tested.  From my co-workers years ago in the Air Force I know that the human brain can directly perceive certain frequencies of microwaves as a high pitched whistle."

This is what I love about Dennis May, what makes him one of the greatest comedians of our time (though I admit I'm troubled by clues in his messages that suggest he is unaware of this comedy and perhaps doesn't intend it). A brain cannot perceive anything. Only a living entity, human or otherwise, can perceive. In the act of perception, the living entity's brain plays an important part, but it's far from the whole story. Even perception will never be understood if it is regarded by researchers as equivalent to events in brain tissue . . . .

I liked Jeff out of the small amount I dealt with him. Coming thru Tucson he was going to visit me but his bad health got in the way. His friend George H. Smith has been felled by a stroke. My generation is going down. At 76 I'm on my last 20.


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10 hours ago, Brant Gaede said:

I liked Jeff out of the small amount I dealt with him. Coming thru Tucson he was going to visit me but his bad health got in the way. His friend George H. Smith has been felled by a stroke. My generation is going down. At 76 I'm on my last 20.


We need you here until 120! 

Thats only 24 more 

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As to Jeff Riggenbach, he has a corner here on OL. He and I interacted for a while, then tangled, then interacted some more, then tangled, and so on. At one point we stopped for what reason I don't recall.

I liked him, although I felt he was too bitter at times. I sometimes sign a post "Helpfully," and I got that off him. It's beautiful sarcasm.

I don't know what this discussion is doing in a thread devoted to Congressional Republicans being harlots, trollops and whores, but somehow I think Jeff would approve. Except he might think we were being too hard on harlots, trollops and whores.


I miss him...


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Thank you Brant. I wish George well. I picked this thread because Ba’al started it and it is mean, but funny.

These few letters illustrate the depth of Ghs’s knowledge and how he treats others in conversation and debate.  What a great guy. Peter

From: "George H. Smith" Reply-To: "George H. Smith" To:"*Atlantis" Subject: ATL: Aristotle on choice Date: Thu, 2 Jan 2003 11:09:06 -0600. As I have noted before, one of the best treatments of "choice" ever written appears in Book III of Aristotle's "Nicomachean Ethics.*The following sketch of his basic points is from the translation by W.D. Ross in *The Basic Works of Aristotle,* ed. Richard McKeon (Random House, 1941).

This summary is taken from Aristotle's introductory remarks on pp. 967-71, after which he explains and defends his views in more detail -- so please don't take this as a comprehensive statement. I encourage everyone to read Aristotle's discussion in its entirety, for two reasons. First, it exerted an enormous influence on subsequent advocates of "free will." Second, it is filled with insights, distinctions, and arguments that every volitionist (including Objectivists) will find of value, even if they take exception to some points.

Summary  Choice does not pertain to what is impossible. We can wish for something impossible (e.g., immortality), but we cannot choose it. An agent chooses "only the things that he thinks could be brought about by his own efforts." Wish relates the end of action, whereas choice relates to the means. For example, we can wish to be healthy but we cannot choose to be healthy per se, because this does not lie directly in our power. Instead, we choose *means,* or specific actions, that we think will make us healthy.

Choice "involves a rational principle and thought." This means that choice is preceded by deliberation. This distinguishes the realm of choice from the realm of the voluntary. All chosen actions are voluntary, but not all voluntary actions are chosen. Something is voluntary if "the moving principle is in the agent himself, he being aware of the particular circumstances of the action." Hence if we act spontaneously from a strong passion, this action is voluntary (i.e., it was not compelled by an external agent) but not chosen per se, because it was not the result of deliberation.

The same is true of habitual actions. These are voluntary but not chosen, since to act from habit is to act without conscious reflection or deliberation. We can, however, choose means that we believe will alter our habits; and it is also the case that our habits are the result of earlier choices. This notion of indirect choice (which is my characterization, not Aristotle's) plays a crucial role in Aristotle's treatment of virtues and vices, which are essentially good and bad moral habits.

(Aristotle's distinction between the voluntary and the chosen – which he discusses in far more detail than indicated here -- is relevant to the topic of soft determinism. He would maintain that the soft determinist confuses voluntary actions with chosen actions. Suppose that all of our actions are necessitated by antecedent causes. Although these determined actions can be described a "voluntary" (because the source of action lies within the agent), they are not a matter of choice. This is because choice presupposes deliberation, and we deliberate only about *alternatives* that we regard as both possible and within our power to do or not to do. )

Aristotle asks: "Do we deliberate about everything, and is everything a possible subject of deliberation, or is deliberation impossible about some things?"

We do not deliberate about things that occur necessarily or by nature, nor about chance events. (These are other ways of saying that we do not deliberate about things that lie outside of our control.) For instance, we do not deliberate about solstices, droughts or rains, nor about the accidental finding of a treasure. Nor do we deliberate about every human action, but only about those things that "can be brought about by our own efforts."

In short, "we deliberate about things that are in our own power and can be done." This means that we do not deliberate about the conclusions of the exact sciences in which conclusions follow with logical necessity from evident premises. Nor do we deliberate about how the letters of the alphabet shall be written, for such matters have already been determined (by convention, in this case) and present no options. Deliberation is possible only when (1) alternatives are possible, and (2) these alternatives lie within our own power to do or not to do. "Deliberation is concerned with things that happen in a certain way for the most part, but in which the event is obscure, and with things in which it is indeterminate."

"We deliberate about ends but not about means." A doctor qua doctor does not deliberate about whether he shall heal, for this purpose is a defining characteristic of his profession. This end is assumed -- it is accepted as a given by the doctor qua doctor -- who deliberates only about the means appropriate to healing, when different options present themselves and a course of action is not absolutely dictated by logical necessity. (Aristotle obviously does not deny that one can deliberate about becoming a doctor, but in this case the profession is viewed as a *means* to some other end, e.g., a fulfilling way of life, a good living, or happiness.)

All deliberation is a type of investigation; to deliberate is to consider various means and to assess their relative desirability vis-à-vis a given end. And if, during the course of this investigation, we encounter an impossibility, we "give up the search" because we realize that something is not within our power. (E.g., "if we need money and this cannot be got; but if a thing appears possible we try to do   it.") Deliberation "is about the things to be done by the agent himself, and actions are for the sake of things other than themselves."

The object of deliberation in a particular case is the same as the object of choice, "except that the object of choice is already determinate, since it is that which has been decided upon as a result of deliberation that is the object of choice."  Again: "The object of choice being one of the things in our own power which is desired after deliberation, choice will be deliberate desire of things in our own power; for when we have decided as a result of deliberation, we desire in accordance with our deliberation."

(The term "deliberate desire" is very important. Aristotle denies that our choices are necessitated by our desires. True, we don't choose something unless we desire it in some sense, but can generate, and thereby control, our desires through deliberation, which is an intellectual process that a person has the power to initiate and direct. To put the same point in Randian terms, feelings are not a primary.) Ghs

From: "George H. Smith" To: "*Atlantis" Subject: ATL: Re: Aristotle on choice Date: Thu, 2 Jan 2003 17:21:29 -0600 Regarding my summary of "Aristotle on choice," Peter Taylor wrote:

"George, I know we are delving into the realm of psychology and psychologizing but what would Aristotle say about the consequences of thinking of oneself as a determined being?  I try to imagine myself in that bizarre position and I can only imagine acting in a nihilistic manner, coming to a crossroads, and going which ever way "seems" right for me. The alternative is paranoia and waiting for the decision to be made by antecedent causality."

Aristotle doesn't discuss the free-will/determinism controversy explicitly (at least not in his extant texts). He seems to consider the power to choose freely to be an obvious characteristic of rational and purposeful human beings, one that is clearly revealed through introspection. And I think he would further maintain that a consistent empiricist should take introspective evidence as seriously as he takes extrospective evidence, especially since knowledge based on the latter *depends* on the reliability of the former. In short, if we cannot trust our internal experiences, then we have no foundation on which to base objective knowledge of anything, including the external world. .

In his classic book, *Outlines of Greek Philosophy,*  Eduard Zeller writes: "Aristotle presupposes quite arbitrarily the freedom of the will and attempts to prove it by the fact that virtue is voluntary and that we are universally held accountable for our actions" (Dover, 1980). Although I wouldn't put it this way -- for one thing, I think "arbitrarily" is an inaccurate characterization-- it is certainly correct to say that Aristotle's stresses the inextricable relationship between free choice and moral phenomena. It is scarcely coincidental that Aristotle discusses "choice" in his work on ethics, where he repeatedly emphasizes that moral judgments apply *only* to actions that lie within our power to do or to forbear.

According to Aristotle, "where it is in our power to act, it is also in our power not to act, and vice versa." This power of choice originates in reason. Choice is the "efficient cause" of an action, but the cause of choice is "desire and reasoning with view to an end." This latter is deliberation, which is a function of practical (as opposed to theoretic, or speculative) reason. Depending on the context, Aristotle also describes this fusion of reason and desire as "desiderative reason" and "ratiocinative desire." Here is a summary from Mortimer J. Adler's magnum opus, *The Idea of Freedom* (vol. I, p 469):

"Beyond desiderative and practical reason, as the power by which man deliberates and chooses, there is no efficient cause of the choices he makes. When Aristotle, referring to desiderative reason, says that 'such an *origin* of action is a man,' he is attributing to a human being the power of *initiating* his own actions by virtue of his practical reason as a first or active moving principle. Just as in the speculative order (i.e., the sphere of knowing) Aristotle posits the *agent*-intellect which acts without being acted upon, so in the practical order (i.e., the sphere of doing or making) he treats practical reason as an *active* power and a *first* cause -- a first cause, that is, with respect to man's own acts, not with respect to the cosmos."

This is background information. I have yet directly to address Peter's question, viz: "what would Aristotle say about the consequences of thinking of oneself as a determined being?" I suspect he would maintain that determinism in any form flatly contradicts introspective evidence, and that it would make nonsense of our subjective experiences. There are a number of reasons for this, but the most obvious is our need for deliberation. We deliberate *only* because we believe that two or more alternatives are possible, and that it within our to choose among these alternatives. For Aristotle (as I noted above) choice presupposes "the power to act" or "not to act" in regard to particular means. .

This raises the interesting question of how Aristotle would argue against determinism. I suspect his argument would resemble his argument (in the *Metaphysics*) against a person who claims to deny the Law of Non-Contradiction (e.g., a person who claims that the same proposition can be both true and false at the same time and in the same respect). Aristotle contends that not all knowledge is strictly demonstrable, because we will ultimately encounter premises and axioms that cannot themselves be proven. Nevertheless, there is a kind of argument – which he calls "dialectical" -- that can be used here.

Unlike a demonstrative argument, which begins with "first principles," a dialectical argument begins with the *opinions* that men hold about a certain subject. The purpose of a dialectical argument is to back one's adversary into an untenable corner by showing that his opinion carries implications that even he would be unwilling to accept. As Zeller indicates, Aristotle would claim that a consistent determinist would be logically required to expunge all normative terms from his language and way of thinking, which is clearly impossible.

It is also likely (though I am obviously speculating here) that Aristotle would argue against the determinist by pointing out that deliberation itself presupposes free choice. We do not deliberate about things which we believe to be impossible. Deliberation *begins* at the point where we believe that various means are  possible* for us. Hence if we truly believed that only *one* action is possible, there would be nothing to deliberate *about.* We *stop* our investigation of means *precisely* at the point where we become convinced that something is *impossible.* Hence to deliberate between different means, X and Y, presupposes that we believe that we have the power to choose *either* X or Y.

Therefore, just as Aristotle claims that a person who denies the Law of Non-Contradiction reduces himself to the intellectual status of a vegetable, so he would probably maintain that the person who implicitly repudiates the function of deliberative reason, which chooses between *possible* means in pursuit of a goal, reduces himself to the status of a lower animal or automaton, in effect, by failing to understand the proper role of reason as an efficient cause (a fundamental explanatory principle) of human action. Ghs

From: "George H. Smith" To: "*Atlantis" Subject: ATL: Re: Aristotle on choice Date: Thu, 2 Jan 2003 18:07:38 -0600 I wrote: "(Aristotle's distinction between the voluntary and the chosen – which he discusses in far more detail than indicated here -- is relevant to the topic of soft determinism. He would maintain that the soft determinist confuses voluntary actions with chosen actions."

Bill Dwyer replied: "On the contrary, the distinction that Aristotle makes between voluntary and chosen actions is perfectly compatible with soft determinism, for the soft determinist would say that our choice to deliberate is itself determined by our interest in deciding which alternative is most worth choosing."

The determinist might say this, but Aristotle would not. Aristotle would say that the choice to deliberate is caused by the *agent,* not his "interests."

I sometimes wonder if any philosopher has ever written anything about this subject that Bill would not claim is somehow compatible with soft determinism. In any case, I was discussing *Aristotle's* distinction between voluntary actions and chosen actions, not Bill's. Aristotle makes it *very* clear that a "choice" entails the *metaphysical* power to do or not to do a particular action. If only one alternatives is possible (and the reason for this necessity, be it internal or external, is irrelevant to Aristotle argument), then deliberation is pointless and authentic choice is impossible.

We need to distinguish between our understanding of Aristotle and how a determinist might respond to his arguments. Bill's analysis clearly runs contrary to the central idea behind Aristotle's distinction. For Aristotle, deliberation involves matters that are contingent rather than necessary, and without deliberation there can be no choice. A deliberation that is somehow necessitated by antecedent causes makes no sense within Aristotle's framework, as he made clear on many occasions.

I wrote: "Suppose that all of our actions are necessitated by antecedent causes. Although these determined actions can be described as "voluntary" (because the source of action lies within the agent), they are not a matter of choice. This is because choice presupposes deliberation, and we deliberate only about *alternatives* that we regard as both possible and within our power to do or not to do.)"

Bill replied: "Yes, alternatives that we regard as possible and within our power to do IF we decide they are ~worth~ doing, and as possible and within our power ~not~ to do IF we decide they are ~not~ worth doing.  It is this kind of conditional possibility that is a pre-requisite for choice.  The action must be within our power to do ~if~ we decide that it's worth choosing.  But it does not have to be within our power to do, if we decide that it's NOT worth choosing."

Aristotle would claim that Bill doesn't understand the nature of deliberation. We deliberate in order to *decide* whether or not an action is worth doing, but before we can do this we must *first* believe that the action is *possible* for us to do. Hence if we didn't first believe that two or more alternatives are *possible* for us, we would not use deliberative reason in order to decide which is the most desirable.

For Aristotle, the *metaphysical* judgment of whether an action is *possible* precedes (and is presupposed by) the *normative* judgment of whether it is *desirable.* If we have already decided that an action is desirable, then there is no *need* for deliberation, for this means we have *already* decided on a course of action. We deliberate for the *purpose* of determining what is desirable and what is not. This is what Aristotle means in speaking of a "deliberate desire." This is a desire that follows from deliberation, and is caused by it.

I must say that Bill's arguments about what is supposedly in our power if we value or desire such and such don't make a lot of sense to me, especially when we take into account his argument from an earlier post, namely, that *all* of our choices, desires, actions, etc., were strictly determined billions of years ago (extending into infinity) by causal events which we are absolutely powerless to change. This thesis renders his circular arguments about hypothetical possibilities even more pointless. This is hard determinism that will not speak its mind. Bill raises some additional issues that I will try to discuss at a later time. Ghs

From: PinkCrash7 To: atlantis Subject: ATL: RE: Aristotle on choice Date: Thu, 2 Jan 2003 20:15:56 EST

Bill Dwyer wrote: "To say that one's choice is the ~result~ of one's deliberation is simply another way of saying that one's deliberation is the ~cause~ of one's choice."

No, it's not.  To make a free choice as a result of deliberation does not mean that the process of deliberation necessitated that that choice be made. That is where you are making the big leap, Superman.  The reasons for making a particular decision are not internally experienced as causally sufficient conditions for that decision to be made.  The individual still retains power and control; the choice is his alone -- not "caused" by the process that is under his own volitional control.  Likewise, once a decision is made, that decision does not "cause" an intentional action; the individual still has freedom and control over what he does. Debbie

From: "George H. Smith" Reply- To: "*Atlantis" Subject: ATL: Re: Aristotle on choice Date: Fri, 3 Jan 2003 01:35:45 -0600 [This is a continuation of an earlier post.]

Bill Dwyer wrote: "Question:  Does Aristotle believe that we choose to deliberate?"

We have no choice but to deliberate about *something* if we are to take any actions at all. This is necessary for survival. But, according to Aristotle, we can choose *what* to deliberate about and *how* we deliberate -- e.g., , which particular aspect of an goal or means we choose to focus on, how long we shall continue to deliberate, which standards of evaluation are appropriate to a given deliberation, etc, etc.

This general ability -- which Aquinas described as the power "to consider or not to consider" and which William James described as the power of "selective attention" -- is nicely summarized by Michael Maher in his Thomistic text, *Psychology: Empirical and Rational* (Longmans, 1925, p. 406):

"If I study by introspection any process of voluntary attention, such as that involved in recalling a forgotten incident, or in guessing a riddle, I observe that I *myself* deliberately *guide* the course of my thoughts. I am conscious that I do this by fostering the strength of some ideas, and starving others....I determine not only what representations, but what *aspect of those representations* shall occupy my consciousness. In such cases I am conscious of exerting *free volition.* Further, throughout this process I apprehend myself as *causing* my mental activity -- I am immediately conscious of my attention as the *exercise of free causal energy* put forth by me.".

Bill continued: "Apparently not, if he holds that deliberation ~precedes~ choice."

Thinking is a much broader activity than deliberation, which is a type of practical thinking that focuses on a particular goal. Aristotle did not believe that we can literally choose to think from scratch, for to be conscious is already to be thinking to some degree. Indeed, as he indicates in "On Dreams," Aristotle believed that we continue to think to some extent even while dreaming. (It would take a while to explain all of this.)

Aristotle held that all actions are motivated by our "appetitive faculty," which may roughly be described as "desire." We are not motivated by pure, or "speculative," reason alone. Only when reason is blended with desire are we motivated to act. The ultimate goal of all action is "happiness" (which is the same thing as the "good" when viewed from an intellectual perspective) -- this is part of our nature that we cannot change.

But Aristotle also maintained that man is not born with an innate or automatic knowledge of the good. In pursuing the "apparent good" (i.e., that which he thinks is good), he can be mistaken. He therefore has a standing motive to deliberate about those possible courses of action that will realize his potential as a rational being and further his happiness. But this is merely an incentive, not a necessitating cause. The only necessity here is the necessity to act according to *some* judgment of the apparent good, if we are to act at all. Our *particular* deliberations, in contrast, are a matter of choice.

It would be a serious error to suppose that Aristotle equates motives with necessitating causes. Of course we have a motive to deliberate, namely, our *desire* to take actions that will make us happy. But since this motive alone does not necessitate any *specific* deliberation, neither does it necessitate any *particular* choice, which is merely the end result of the deliberative process. (Basically, when you *choose* to stop deliberating, you have made a de facto choice.)

Bill wrote: "His view would seem to conflict, then, with Objectivism's, in which we do choose to deliberate (i.e., to think)."

No, there is no conflict here at all. Even Rand didn't maintain that we "choose to think" in the sense of moving from a literal state of unconsciousness to a state of consciousness. Rather, she meant that we increase the level, or intensity, of our awareness.

You wish to push Aristotle into an infinite regress, but this doesn't hold. If, as Aristotle believed, thinking is a natural activity of the human mind, then we are already thinking on some level *before* we choose to deliberate about a particular subject. The volitional agent can control the intensity and direction of his thinking. This is all that is required.

There are other issues involved here. For example, Aristotle would maintain that reasoning, an acquired skill, eventually becomes habitual in the form of an "intellectual virtue." This means that we don't methodically deliberate about choosing to deliberate, and so on ad infinitum, in each and every case. Rather, we frequently focus our attention as a matter of habit, when a situation presents itself that we recognize, from past experience, as one that requires our undivided attention. Aristotle somewhere notes that deliberation can occur in flash, once the procedure has become automatic. (I recall that Rand makes a similar point as well.)

Moreover, deliberation does not differ in kind from other kinds of reasoning. It is merely practical reason applied to a particular goal. As I noted before, deliberation does not jump-start itself. It is set in motion by a desire, after which we choose to think about the desire from various angles in order to decide whether or not to act upon it – and if so, how. The determinist will understand none of this, so long as he views a motive as if it were the first domino in a long line of dominos, such that after the first one falls all others must fall after it. This was of thinking was totally alien to Aristotle's approach to human psychology.

Bill wrote: "Indeed, according to Objectivism, our only real choice ~is~ the choice to deliberate or not to deliberate -- to think or not to think.  Every other choice is consequent upon it and is, therefore, according to Objectivism, not itself a real choice (at least, not a ~free~ choice)."

First, I am not altogether convinced that this was Rand's view. Second, if it was Rand's position, then Aristotle would have disagreed with it -- and so do I. We have many, many "free" choices beyond the "choice to think." To say that this choice is fundamental is *not* to say that it is our *only* authentic choice. Ghs

From: PinkCrash7 To: atlantis Subject: ATL: RE: Aristotle on choice Date: Fri, 3 Jan 2003 02:58:40 EST

Bill Dwyer wrote: "Since there is no such thing as a causeless result, a choice that is not caused by the agent's deliberation is not the result of his deliberation.  What, then, ~is~ it the result of?  The agent's exercise of his free will, you say.  Fine, but if Aristotle wants to say that the choice occurs as a result of the agent's free will, irrespective of the deliberation, then he cannot say that it occurs as a result of the deliberation."

I don't have Aristotle's "Nicomachean Ethics" to refer to, though I have now ordered *the Basic Works of Aristotle* so I'll have it in the future to refer to (you can get that on, btw,  for $13.97, which is 30% off – not the same publisher and year as the one George cited, but it has the same editor and I would assume it's all the same) and I do not yet know Aristotle's works to be able to say much of anything about his views.

Nevertheless I'll give this a stab anyway.  I don't think that to say that a decision is the result of deliberation means that the deliberation compels a certain decision to be made.  It simply means that a decision was arrived at through deliberation without the reasons for it providing causally sufficient conditions for the decision to be made.  If causation means to cause something to happen, I don't see where the process of deliberation -- which I view as being under the volitional control of the individual -- is going to *cause* the decision.  It is the individual who makes the decision, it is the individual who acts.  He is not a puppet on string compelled to accept whatever decision is produced by a process going on in his mind that is not under his own control  I just don't see that as being the way things happen.

Bill continued: "As I said, in my previous post, suppose that one deliberates in order to identify which choice is best, and after identifying that A is the best choice, freely chooses non-A instead.  Would it make sense to say that one's choice is the ~result~ of one's deliberation?  No, it would be a choice that is made ~irrespective~ of it, since the choice would ~contradict~ the results of one's deliberation, which is that A is the best choice, not non-A."

Yes, I agree with this -- how could I not?  I decided several hours ago that it would be in my best interests to be in bed no later than midnight because my vacation is over with now and I have to get up at 6 AM to go back to the office.  I deliberated and actually *made the decision* to be in bed by midnight.  Yet here it is, almost 3 AM and I'm still not in bed; I'm on the internet discussing freedom of choice with Billy Dwyer.:-)

However, I don't see what your point is as far as determinism goes.  It seems to me, if anything, to just proves the case of freedom all the more.

And now I'm going to bed, to my futon that is, and will lull myself off to dreamland with freely chosen thoughts and fantasies about my deliberate desires... Debbie

 From: "George H. Smith" Reply- To: "*Atlantis" <atlantis Subject: ATL: Aristotle's sea-fight (was Locke's Lament and Other Imponderables) Date: Wed, 8 Jan 2003 12:45:38 -0600

 This is the third and concluding part of my reply to Jeff Olson's original post.]

 Jeff Olson wrote: " Aristotle wrestled with the question, and apparently decided, Solomon-like, that predictions of future events are *neither* true nor false. But then rumor has it that he was drinking heavily at the time."

 This problem arises in Aristotle's famous discussion of the sea-fight, which appears in Ch.9 of *On Interpretation.* Here is his summary:

 "Let me illustrate. A sea-fight must either take place tomorrow or not, but it is not necessary that it should take place tomorrow, neither is it necessary that it should not take place, yet it is necessary that it either should or should not take place tomorrow. Since propositions correspond with facts, it is evident that when in future events there is a real alternative, and a potentiality in contrary directions, the corresponding affirmation and denial have the same character." (Trans. E.M. Edghill, in McKeon, *Basic Works of Aristotle,* p. 48).

 Aristotle's purpose is to rebut the argument (which may have been proposed by some sophists) that (1) since one of a pair of contradictory statements must be true, and (2) since this rule of logic holds for contradictory statements about the future, it follows that (3) if a statement about a (supposedly) contingent future event (i.e., one that involves deliberation and choice) can be said to be true, then that event must *necessarily* come about. For if it is true to say *now* that a sea-fight will occur tomorrow, then a sea-fight *must* occur tomorrow.

 Parts of Aristotle's treatment are not as clear or fully developed as one would like (which may be because many of his extant writings are lecture notes rather than polished pieces), but his basic point is clear enough. Although the strong (or exclusive) disjunctive proposition "A sea-fight will occur tomorrow, or a sea-fight will not occur tomorrow" is necessarily true, it does not follow from this that *either* part is *necessarily* true. Again quoting Aristotle:

"One of the two propositions in such instances must be true and the other false, but we cannot say determinately that this or that is false, but must leave the alternative undecided. One may indeed be more likely to be true than the other, but it cannot be either actually true or actually false" (p. 48).

Jeff wrote: "By extension, any action that *will* occur, is also a fact. Therefore, if future events are facts, either freedom is an illusion -- or freedom is itself inapplicable to the actions of conscious beings."

I covered this before. Future events are not "facts."

Jeff wrote: "For it is truly a fact that all beings, insofar as they are alive, must do *something.* Freedom of action is irrelevant to that fact. We are not compelled, then, to take whatever action we take; it is simply a fact, on this account, that we do or do not take it. Freedom has no application, I would argue, to such events; they are simply factual or non-factual."

To describe an event as a "fact" is not to compel or necessitate that event, since a "fact" refers to that which is taking place (the present) or has taken place (the past).

Let us examine more closely what it means to speak of predictions of contingent human events as either true or false. Consider the statement, "George W. Bush will vote for himself in the next presidential election." This has two primary meanings -- one epistemological, the other metaphysical.

Epistemologically, there is a sense in which we can say that the prediction "President Bush will vote for himself in the next election" is true. What we mean by this is not that this prediction will necessarily come to pass -- for their are a number of contingent circumstances, such as his possible decision not to run again, that may occur -- but that the cognitive basis on which we make this prediction is accurate and well-grounded. In this case, the "fact" to which the true proposition corresponds is our state of knowledge at the *present* time. We are saying, in effect: "It is true to say, given our present knowledge and barring any unforeseen circumstances, that this event has a high probability of occurring."

Metaphysically, however, we cannot say that the same prediction is "true," for the future event which it predicts does not yet exist, so there is no "fact" to which the proposition can possibly correspond. In this case, the statement "President Bush will vote for himself" will become true only at the point when Bush actually votes for himself, if this should happen..

Similarly, if I say, "The sun will rise tomorrow," I am not *describing* a metaphysical fact; I am *predicting* a fact that I believe will occur in the future. In this metaphysical sense there is no difference between necessary facts and the contingent facts of human action. The difference arises on the epistemological level. Given our deterministic presuppositions about nature, we believe that we have adequate cognitive grounds to make accurate and *precise* predictions about future physical events. In this sphere, as Aristotle puts it, "there are no real alternatives; everything takes place of necessity and is fixed" (p.46).

But, lacking causal necessity, this kind of precise prediction is not possible about contingent human actions. As Aristotle said about human actions:

"[W]e see that both deliberation and action are causative with regard to the future, and that, to speak more generally, in those things which are not continuously actual, there is potentiality in either direction. Such things may either be or not be; events also therefore may take place or not take place. There are many obvious instances of this" (p. 47}.

Jeff wrote: "To conclude these recondite reflections, I'd say we face a basic choice: either events, including human action, are not fluid, but happen because they must happen -- and will always happen under identical circumstances -- or both future and past events are truly in flux, never absolutely resolving in singular events (except from a limited knowledge perspective). Stated more concretely, if we cannot state facts about the future, then we cannot state facts about the past."

This confusion between past facts and future "facts" that don't yet exist, but which may or may not come to be in the sphere of contingent human actions, has resulted here in a good deal of misunderstanding.

Jeff wrote: "The difference between past and future events is not, I'm arguing, a matter of fact, but of knowledge. Their *factual* status must be, if we're logically consistent, identical. My assertion that my orange tree will bear fruit next fall is just as much a fact or non-fact as my assertion that Vesuvius exploded in 70 A.D. Ditto for future human actions. It is either a fact or a non-fact that I will have authored a bestseller by January 2004. I just have to wait till then to see if it's true, dammit."

I think I have already addressed these points adequately. There are serious ambiguities here that need to be clarified. Ghs

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I found a whole file with JR’s letters, but here is the concluding letter from Ellen. Peter

 From: Ellen Stuttle To: atlantis Subject: ATL: Re: Psychology as a Pseudo-Science Date: Tue, 8 Oct 2002 15:36:16 -0400

> Michael Carriger: >"If psychology uses the scientific method to study mind, then psychology is a science by the technical definition of science."

JR replies: >Unfortunately, Michael, there is no way to "study mind."  All anyone can study is his or her own mind.

In one respect, that's true.  However, if what JR is claiming is that there's no intelligent basis for believing that anyone else except oneself has a mind, and/or for believing that other people's minds have certain characteristics, I respectfully submit that JR is making a silly statement.

>As for particle physics, I'm quite willing to label it pseudo-science. Its basic methodology, stripped of its self-serving and obfuscating jargon,  is as follows:  if certain particles smaller than atoms existed and had certain characteristics, then we would observe certain phenomena; we observe these phenomena; therefore these sub-atomic particles exist and have the assumed characteristics.  In ordinary logic textbooks, this is known as the Fallacy of Affirming the Consequent.

Tehe.  And yet JR accepts that atoms exist! 😉 ES

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7 hours ago, Peter said:

Does Ghs say how bad the stroke was, what are his options, will he continue to write, etc..?


George's last posts on Facebook are from August and September of last year.

August 30, 2021:


Some very bad news. 

I had a stroke on Tuesday (Aug. 18) that disabled my right leg and made it nearly impossible to walk. I have been in the hospital from Aug, 18 through Aug. 29. I have been able to get around with a walker and a cane, though some chores remain impossible to me. While hospitalized, I had major surgery to clear an artery that had become over 90 percent clogged.  I will  add more details later. Just writing a short post takes a  lot of my energy.

September 3, 2021:


I haven't received any hospital bills yet, after a stay of over 10 days and what seemed to be an endless routine of tests, but  I don't have any insurance, not even medicare.  (The total due will be at least $60,000.) I therefore post this plea for financial help from my friends. Any amount, large or small would, be appreciated.  Personal checks or money orders would be fine but I don't want to post my personal address online. If you would like to contribute, please message me offlist and I will send you my address where you can send a contribution. Many thanks.

On that Facebook thread back in September, Tim Hopkins mentioned he set up a GoFundMe page here. I don't know how much good that will do, though. The goal is $60,000 and total donations are about $4.5k. I think GoFundMe only releases the funds after the goal has been reached. So I hope some rich friends of George helped directly along with whatever can be had from the government, foundations, etc.


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Again, I wish George well and I hope he has a benevolent recovery. Reading about Ghs’s problems with money and medical care got me wondering, but only for a second. I will gladly take my next stimulus check. I will gladly get my social security and Medicare “payback” checks and benefits! And, I proudly get my medicines from the Veterans Administration . . . free of charge . . . and I do not consider it to be a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul. I also have a couple of small pensions, so I am not rolling in green, but I get by with a little help from my gov’t friends. I planned it this way. Yet I do worry about a collapsing of the Pyramid and this giant Ponzi Scheme. Peter   

Notes. From: AchillesRB To: objectivism Subject: Re: OWL: Rand & Social Security Date: Wed, 5 Jan 2005 13:42:28 EST. On December 22, 2004, Ari Armstrong wrote: "It distresses me to see Objectivists support forced savings controlled by Congress. If Bush's plan for Social Security appeals to you, please read the following essay:

The Objectivist  Response to Social  Security"

I agree completely with Ari's position on this. I opined to other members of this list (privately) that "privatization" of Social Security, if still government controlled, amounts to a ~fascist~ program, as opposed to the present (essentially) communistic program. (I use these terms in the same way Rand did when distinguishing between fascism and communism.) (And I find it someone oddly ironic that Bush's proposal, supported by Cato and many others, is fascistic, while the program run in Germany under the Nazis was actually communistic.)

One more item that may interest list-members who are not already aware of it. Ayn Rand was on Social Security! Perhaps she justified this in the same way that she justified taking government scholarships, employment, etc. -- if you speak out against it and are willing to do without it once it's repealed, then you are justified in taking it. (See "The Question of Scholarships.") Nevertheless, here are the details on her Social Security membership, taken from the online death index of Social Security recipients:


Birth Date: 2 Feb 1905

Death Date: Mar 1982

Social Security Number:  571-32-9405

State or Territory Where Number Was Issued:  California

Death Residence Localities

ZIP Code:  10019

Localities:  New York, New York, New York

Radio City, New York, New York

I post this more for people's information, but discussion would be welcome. Best to all, Roger Bissell

From: Weingarten To: OWL <objectivism Subject: Fwd: OWL: Rand & Social Security Date: Thu, 6 Jan 2005 18:06:28 -0800

Roger Bissell finds it questionable that "Ayn Rand" was on Social Security. Perhaps he takes the position of Leonard Read (the founder of FEE) who refused to receive financial benefits from that Administration. I do not however see a contradiction between recognizing that Social Security is fundamentally wrong, and receiving its benefits.

Although I accept the imperative to fund the government for its few basic functions, that is a minor portion of our payments. Most payments are unjustified, and aim at wealth distribution, which constitutes theft. Yet let us suppose that a thief has stolen money from many of us, and that our position that the money should be returned is not followed. Instead, we are given a choice, that either we receive some of that money or none of it. I would choose the former.

My argument is that whether or not we receive some of the loot will not abrogate the Social Security Administration. Rather it penalizes the few who recognize the immorality of the system, so that there are more spoils for those who advocate it. Rather it should be those who are against the system who deserve to be compensated, while it is those who are for that system who deserve to lose out.

So I advocate the elimination of virtually all governmental services, but in the interim believe in paying as little taxes as is feasible, while receiving whatever benefits are advantageous. Weingarten

From: Eyal Mozes To: "" <objectivism Subject: Re: OWL: Rand on Social Security Date: Fri,  7 Jan 2005 20:26:40 -0500. Ari Armstrong criticizes Bush's plan for partially replacing the social security system by private accounts, and criticizes the Cato Institute and some ARI writers for supporting Bush's plan. I agree with Ari on many points, but overall I disagree with his conclusion that the plan is not a step in the direction of liberty at all and that Objectivists should not support it.

Some points on which Ari is clearly right are: that mandatory private accounts will not solve all the problems with the current system; that the only way to solve all the problems with the current system is to abolish it completely, probably in several stages through a phase-out plan; that any free-market advocates who support the private-accounts plan should publicly and explicitly endorse abolition of the system and make clear they support the plan only as a partial improvement over the current situation; and that the Cato Institute, and some ARI writers, have been remiss in not making  this clear.

Ari claims that the private-accounts plan is in fact a combination of two totally separate and unconnected proposals: allowing workers a partial opt-out out of social security, and setting up a system of mandatory private retirement accounts. On this, I disagree. As long as we have income taxes that make it difficult to save for retirement, the only way individuals can effectively save for retirement is through special accounts that allow savings to grow tax-free. We have some provision for this today with 401(k) plans and IRA accounts; but any plan to eliminate or reduce the current social security system, whether through phase-out or opt-out, since it will mean individuals can no longer expect to receive social security benefits after retirement, will have to be accompanied by some additional provision for individual saving for retirement. I do completely agree with Ari that there's no justification for making such new savings provisions mandatory; the most reasonable solution would be a phase-out of social security, along the lines that Ari has suggested, combined with some provision for additional voluntary saving, e.g. through a drastic increase in personal IRA contribution limits. But the point is, some form of provision for private retirement accounts has to be an inseparable part of social security reform; the link between the two is not arbitrary as Ari claims.

Given that Bush's private-accounts plan clearly does not solve all the problems with the present system, there are three main questions we need to answer in order to evaluate it:

1. Is it a significant step towards solving at least some of the problems with the system?

2. Is it likely to lead to further reform towards greater liberty in the future, or is it likely to block such further reform?

3. Will it be in any respect worse than the current system, causing new problems and new impingements on freedom?

To answer question 1, we should identify that the current social security system has two basic problems:

a. The coercion problem. The system is a coercive, paternalistic system, forcibly taking individual's earnings, preventing them from using it according to their own judgment, and employing this coercion allegedly for their own benefit.

b. The pyramid-scheme problem. The system is a pyramid scheme (sometimes referred to as a "Ponzi scheme"), in which current "contributors" are promised future benefits not from any productive investment but from the contributions of future "contributors".

Note that these are two separate problems. The Ponzi-scheme problems has serious consequences in addition to its coercive nature. It is the cause of the financial un-sustainability of the system. It is also the cause of a grave injustice towards those who die young; those people have been forced to "contribute" to the system during their working years as much as anyone else, but they and their heirs are deprived of the promised benefits.

A system of mandatory private accounts will be no better and no worse than the current system as far as the coercion problem. But it will help in solving the pyramid-scheme problem (a complete conversion to mandatory private accounts would completely solve the pyramid-scheme problem; a partial conversion, as Bush is proposing, would partially solve the problem). For that reason, I think it would be a significant, though incomplete, step towards greater liberty and towards solving the problems of the current system.

Regarding question 2, Ari claims that Bush's plan threatens to block meaningful reform in the future. I disagree. On the contrary, I think that if Bush's plan is implemented, further reform would become much easier. The biggest political hurdle, that must be faced by any attempt to reform social security, is the problem pointed out by George Bernard Shaw: "A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul." In this case, younger workers are Peter, retirees and people close to retirement are Paul, and any attempt at reform must overcome opposition from a very large number of Paul’s whose ability to receive benefits at Peter's expense is threatened. Private mandatory accounts will overcome this hurdle; once they are in place, proposals for further reform, by making contributions to these accounts voluntary rather than  mandatory, and by easing regulation on these accounts, will not be a threat to anyone's benefits, and will thus be accepted much more easily.

On question 3, Ari notes that because the private accounts will include stock-market investments but will be subjected to heavy regulation, their investment decisions would be subject to political pressure, perhaps even made by government officials. This would be a new problem, a problem that does not exist in the current system and could be created by private accounts. Because the total amount of money in social-security private accounts is likely to quickly become very large, it could become a significant portion of the total money invested in the stock market, and having the investment of this money directed by government officials would create a lot of opportunities for political manipulation of the financial markets and of corporations.

I agree with Ari that this is a serious concern. But I don't think it is unavoidable. From what I have read about the Chilean system, it looks like they successfully avoided this problem (I don't claim to be an expert on the Chilean system, and I may have the wrong impression here, but this is my impression from what I have read). The mandatory retirement accounts are managed by private companies. Workers are required to put a certain portion of their payroll in these accounts, but they have a genuine choice in choosing among the companies. The accounts are subjected to heavy regulations restricting what percentage of the funds can be invested in stocks, and the managing companies are not allowed to engage in any other investment or banking business outside of managing retirement accounts; these regulations certainly make the system less than ideal; but as far as deciding what stocks to invest in, the decisions are made privately, no different from those of any mutual fund manager. This is far from a fully free system, but it is clearly more free than the US social security system, and does avoid the problem of government-directed investment.

In contrast, the plan proposed by Cato (in the paper written by Michael Tanner; would not avoid this problem. Cato propose a three-tier system, and in tier II (which will contain most of the accounts) individuals will have a choice among three funds; each fund will be invested in a diversified portfolio of stocks and bonds, each with a different ratio of stocks to bonds. This means presumably that the social security administration will appoint the managers of each of these three funds, who will then control the investment decisions of most of the social security private accounts. It is likely that the total of these accounts would quickly become very large, thus creating a lot of opportunities for these government-appointed fund managers to exert control over the financial markets and over corporations through their investment decisions. I find it shocking that a free-market organization like Cato would propose such a plan.

Roger Bissel says that a private accounts plan would amount to a fascist program. Regarding Cato's proposal, I agree. The defining characteristic of fascism is that property is nominally private but decisions about its use are made by government officials; Cato's plan - accounts which would be nominally owned by individuals but invested according to decisions made by the government-appointed managers of three funds - clearly fits this definition. But regarding the Chilean system, I think Roger's characterization is wrong. Under the Chilean system, individuals are required to put a certain portion of their payroll into the mandatory retirement accounts, but have a genuine choice among companies to manage their accounts, and the investment decisions in these accounts are subjected to a lot of regulation but are still made privately; this is not fascism, it is a government-hampered market system, and it is clearly preferable to the socialist system we have in the US today.

At this point we have no way of knowing whether Bush's plan will be more similar to the Cato plan or to the Chilean system; so far he and his advisers have not come up with any details about how the private accounts will be managed. If he comes up with a plan in which all private accounts are required to be in one of a designated small number of funds, then his plan, by creating government-directed investment in the stock market, may create more problems than it would solve.

However, if Bush comes up with a plan for private accounts managed by private companies, with individuals having a genuine choice in choosing the company to manage their account, and with the companies, even though subject to regulation, still making their own investment decisions and not having these decisions dictated by regulators; then I think Objectivists, and other free-market advocates, should enthusiastically support the plan. In supporting the plan, we should denounce its coercive aspects, explicitly endorse full freedom, and make clear that we support the plan only as an improvement over the current system; but we should also recognize that such a plan will indeed be a significant step towards liberty compared to the current system, and will make it easier to achieve further reform towards greater liberty in the future.

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I forgot to mention something about Jeff.

If you listen to audiobooks and can find one read by him, you are in for a treat. He had the most delicious bass-baritone voice of any narrator since Earl Nightingale.

To give you a comparison, here is Jeff narrating The Driver by Garet Garrett. This book was published in 1922 and is on the Mises YouTube site. So I am pretty sure it will not be taken down.

As an aside, fist, here is the Wikipedia summary: The Driver:


It tells the story of brilliant financial speculator Henry M. Galt. Through his own vision and work ethic, Galt takes over the failing Great Midwestern Railroad during an economic crisis, turning it into a hugely productive and profitable asset for the benefit of himself and the rest of the nation. The novel begins against the backdrop of the panic of 1893 and the free silver movement when many real-life railroads went bankrupt. In large part due to Galt's efforts, the country's economy is restored. Galt's acquisitions and fortune continue to grow and he becomes the wealthiest person in America. Instead of celebration, there is envy and distrust among those who marvel at but fail to understand Galt's genius. His enemies, along with the federal government, set out to destroy Galt and topple the empire he has built.

As is usual in O-Land and l-land, there are people who say Rand ripped off this book for Atlas Shrugged and there are others who say this book had nothing to do with Atlas Shrugged. I find it impossible to believe Rand plagiarized, but equally impossible to believe Rand did not read this book, get some inspiration from it and include details in AS as a kind of tribute. Henry Galt? I mean, come on: Henry Rearden and John Galt. Also a genius (Galt) saves railroads and the economy while getting envy and distrust in return as his cultural payment, and the government as his enemy. Helloooo... :) 

Anywho, here are the Youtube links to Jeff's narration: Chapter 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17. As further enticement to listen, here is Chapter 1 embedded:

If you want to get idea of the breadth of Jeff's professional achievements in narrating audiobooks, simply go to Audible and search for "Jeff Riggenbach". There are pages of books, mostly nonfiction, and all being sold.

To compare the delicious bass-baritone voice quality I mentioned, here is Earl Nightingale talking about Acres of Diamonds. I always liked this story because, outside of relating it to one's persona life, it was used to inspire the education of a huge number of poor American youth in the early years of last century, especially after WWI. The land owner was America poor kids were the diamonds...




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