Sunzi Bingfa

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Everything posted by Sunzi Bingfa

  1. I think part of what they do it to poke fun at certain ideas or people in order to promote their antipode.
  2. I think the reference to Atlas is a positive one for several reasons. Officer Barbrady is arguably one of the most dim-witted characters on the show. (That says a lot, given the abundance of other not-so-bright characters.) He is inarticulate and displays a clear inability to comprehend situations that he encounters, which makes him incapable of rendering proper judgment on the parties involved. To top it off, we learn in this episode that Office Barbrady is completely illiterate. So what does the dullard do as soon as he develops the ability to read the word "cat"? He runs out, reads Atlas Shrugged, and decides that he hates it. If the creators intention was to pan Atlas, why would they do it in this way? Why select an idiot to criticize the book? I give the creators more credit than to choose such a poor approach to attacking Atlas. It is clear to me that they carefully crafted this episode to present the viewer with the type of person who reads Atlas and hates it--dim-witted, uncultured, can barely read, and so on. I also think this is about the best method available to encourage viewers to give Atlas a look without sounding like cheer leaders for Objectivism (which would have had the oppostive effect of what they intended). Given the various views presented in this thread, maybe their approach didn't work out as planned, though it certainly got people talking about the book.
  3. For those who have attended the OAC before, how strongly would you recommend that I have a land line set up for attending classes? Is this a must, preferable, or purely a question of personal preference?
  4. Congratulations la zafada! I wish you all the best.
  5. NBC's "Green is Universal" Campaign

    That made me laugh! Well done sir.
  6. I am skimming some of OPAR before going through it again in depth and came across something that had me confused from my initial reading some time ago. The quote is from page 6, 2nd paragraph of an Ayn Rand quote: "A consciousness conscious of nothing but itself is a contradiction in terms: before it could identify itself as consciousness, it had to be conscious of something." In a sense, this is somewhat esoteric scenario to begin with, as the situation described is so far removed from my normal experience. I think this is where most of the difficulty lay. I would start by recognizing that consciousness is something, it is an entity with specific attributes. This leaves me wondering how a consciousness necessarily must be conscious of something else before it can become aware of its own existence. Defining terms clearly will probably help here: Consciousness is the faculty of perceiving that which exists. That statement leaves out some specifics. Doesn't a consciousness make identifications by differentiation? To take a different example: If a consciousness were presented with a field of red color, how would it identify this field as having color or being red with no other colors to perceive? Could it even make an identification at all? I don't see how it can. Another example: An entity that constantly experiences a constant level of (we would describe as) pleasure. How can the consciousness of this being possibly identify this feeling unless at least some of the time it feels pain, or the absence of pleasure? Am I ignoring the difference between identification and consciousness? I don't think so. Isn't identification a necessary part of the process of perception? And a consciousness must be able to differentiate as part of the identification process. I may have answered my own question here. Have I made any errors? Am I on the right track? Cheers, Steve
  7. My world is burning

    To everyone impacted by the fires: take care and be well. On another note, I am wondering where the global warming crowd is on this one. Here we apparently have actual proof of human activity threatening increased global temperatures. How's this for a bumber stick concept? Prevent Global Warming: Stop Fire Now! I also wonder how many of the "environmentalists" had suggested the fires were the result of global warming prior to the revelation that arsonists may have caused at least some of the fires...
  8. Vote for Ayn Rand in Strand Book Store Contest

    More good news! Thank you for providing the link Betsy.
  9. Weird Psychological Trick

    On my browser the figure consistently loads facing slightly to one side with the tip of the raised foot almost at the furthest possible point to the right. I'm suggesting the figure's position upon loading (for example the position of the raised foot) could influence the viewers initial impression of which way she is rotating.
  10. Looking for Advice

    What an incredible recommendation! It is very easy to make assumptions about something and give up without that experience.
  11. Weird Psychological Trick

    Very interesting. I originally saw her move clock-wise, which seems wrong for me given the description in the two lists. I wonder what bias might be caused by the original pose of the figure as the page is loaded. Seems they would have to randomly choose the beginning orientation to avoid faulty results regarding what people see, at least at first. I didn't see any evidence for why they think "right brained" and "left brained" people will see her moving in different directions.
  12. Difficulties in Understanding Objectivism

    I sympathize with your frustration; I remember experiencing a similar feeling within the first few years after reading Ayn Rand’s work for the first time. It has been about 8 years since I first read Atlas. Miss Rand's philosophy has guided me toward a genuinely happier and more satisfying life. I compare the influence of her ideas to the effect of compound interest on principle; the early gains are tiny compared to the result after each gain is successively compounded. I spent the first several years striving to gain a deeper understating of Objectivism and to identify and remove the unwarranted conclusions and subconscious influences that I had developed over many years. I believe it was specifically that process of careful, deliberate introspection, with the consequent identification and gradual elimination of the unearned guilt and the unreasonable (non-reality based) expectations I accepted for myself that facilitated entering the intermediate stage of discovering for the first time what my passions in life really are. (I still remember being asked years ago by a woman I was dating what my passions in life were and having no answer. That’s not to say I’m 100% clear regarding my passions today, but the change is clear and significant.) Now I devote much of my thinking and time to the process of learning and truly grasping what it means to be a passionate valuer, both the causes and effects, along with continuing to identify my hierarchy of values. I hope you persevere with your study of Objectivism and take a patient approach that will see your personal spiritual profits grow with time.
  13. US Army vet cuts down Mexican flag raised above US flag

    I think this is a fascinating discussion and have formulated some comments and questions based on previous posts: What is treason? What actions, words, and so on constitute treason? What is the ethical status of treason? Does this depend on the nature of the government the treason is directed against? Can the same actions represent treason when directed against one government but have a different status if directed against a governement of a different nature? What forms of speech are criminal and which are not? Can certain expressions of speech which do not threaten a person's life be considered criminal? Does treasonous speech directed against a fundamentally free government necessarily constitute a threat against the people of that nation if the supported alternative is a less-free or fundamentally unfree society? Does that speech constitute a threat of the initiation of force (albeit in a very indirect way)? Can the desecration of certain symbols be considered a criminal act? Why? Currently I am inclined to condemn the man who forcibly removed the Mexican flag. In principle, speech that offends should be tolerated in a free society; a man's mind must be left free and not coerced or censored by the government. He must be free to use his property as he sees fit, presuming the rights of other men are not infringed. Additionally, I'm not sure how initiating force against another person rather than pursuing legal means of redress can be justified. It is also ironic that this man who presumably loves the freedom he enjoys in America would attack the property of another man who appears to be exercising his freedom. I have many more questions than answers at the present time, so I will content myself to read other people's posts and consider the relevant questions. Steve
  14. The Intrinsic Moral Community

    If I read your post correctly, in the example above you are viewing all men collectively and asking "how do they have value to me?" Your examples are good, as they are focused on the question of how a particular person or type of person may or may not be a value to you. Concrete examples are excellent for understanding. I know you've received numerous reading recommendations, and I'd like to throw in my two cents: For me Leonard Peikoff's Objectivism: Philosophy of Ayn Rand is the central introductory text that covers Objectivist ethics. I have delved into Tara Smith's Viable Values, but so far I find the content much more difficult to work through. Steve
  15. Interesting online games!

    The Last Stand was excellent, though it can leave the wrist a little sore. I'm very curious to see where games go from here. The Internet could well be a cheaper way to get games to market, opening doors for novice creators and games that target smaller niche markets. Steve
  16. Approaches to studying philosophy

    What a succinct way of framing the decision Betsy. That really is the key question, and a sticky one for me. I'm going to open a new post to discuss that, since gaining clarity regarding my future plans will only help me to decide what specifically to study and how much effort to expend in each area. Once I've written the new post I'll edit the link into this post. Steve
  17. I decided recently to study OPAR for a second time and am considering which method of study is ideal. My current intention is to work through each of the 55 (if memory serves) sections of OPAR one-at-a-time, including in my study of each section relevant works on that topic from other writers. That process will be very time intensive if I have to dig through dozens of works to sift out each writer's ideas that relate to the section of OPAR I am studying. What approach worked well in your study of Objectivism? I am particularly interested in how beneficial The Great Books and the Synopticon would be with this kind of study, for those who have experience with The Great Books. Cheers, Steve
  18. Interesting online games!

    What a fantastic concept! That one is going into my list of interesting game mechanics. Steve
  19. For attending OAC courses by telephone

    PhilO and Betsy, I appreciate your responses. Using Skype sounds like a particularly good option, being low-cost and reliable. I will very likely be at my computer during the classes as it is. Thank you both, Steve
  20. A philosophical question

    You could add quite a few items to that list. I'll toss in a couple: 4) That your senses are valid 5) That you have free will Steve
  21. Amazingly good article in FORBES magazine

    Clearly a positive article. It is the best treatment of Objectivism within the context of news media that I have read to date.
  22. Consciousness conscious only of itself

    I appreciate off your your responses. My main confusion stemmed from detaching consciousness from the thing which is conscious. Consciousness is a faculty, and a faculty does not exist separately from the entity which has that faculty. Arnold's substitution of awareness for consciousness was particularly good. I quickly realized how silly it was to think of an awareness aware only of itself. Only living entities are aware. I also agree with bborg's explanation, though it required more time for me to see that the identification of something external to a consciousness must precede a consciousness identifying itself and it's function. A consciousness in a void is simply not possible when considering either Aaron or bborg's explanations. I see now the meaning and truth behind what Ayn Rand wrote in the quote I originally referenced. Great discussion! Steve
  23. Hello to all Forum members and readers. In the spirit of openness I thought I should post an updated introduction as it has been quite some time since I originally became a member. About eight years have passed since I first read Atlas Shrugged. I still consider myself a student of Objectivism and expect to see myself in that way for some time to come. In the intervening years I have read all of Miss Rand's novels (more than once in most cases) and numerous articles she and other Objectivists have written. For me it was the Objectivist ethics that most inspired my continued curiosity. Beyond that, Ayn Rand's sense of life as it came through her novels was truly intoxicating. It is these same elements that have most influenced my personal development. I anticipate many opportunities to discuss Objectivism and its application in our daily lives. Steve
  24. A reintroduction of sorts

    That is precisely the thought that entered into my mind as I composed my original post. At one point I considered the various examples of people I have met and how they related to Ayn Rand's ideas. The people who focused heavily on the political side had the abrasive, controlling personalities. This comes through especially during political discussion, where the focus of these individuals is on pulling and pushing the other side to their position (on "winning the argument"). Steve
  25. al-Qaida Says They Are Winning the War

    Early on in their conflict against the Nationalists, the Chinese Communists followed directives handed down from the head of the Party Central Committee Li Lisan. Li in turn was also a follower of sorts, stepping to the tune of directives emanating from Moscow regarding the approved methods for carrying on revolutionary struggle. Marxist-Leninist dogma called for the Reds military strength to be concentrated against urban centers. Chinese Communist forces coalesced into a rag-tag army the late 1920s. Early on they were victorious when repulsing Nationalist forces who were assaulting their mountain stronghold. Emboldened by victory and with some training under their belt, the Communists left the stronghold and engaged in a series of disastrous campaigns in 1930 in which (under orders from Li) they assaulted Nationalist forces who were defending cities. The Chinese Communists held Changsha for a few days, but were driven out in bloody battle. Several unsuccessful assaults on Nanchang resulted in further devastating losses. In just a few battles the morale and strength of the Communist army had been shattered. Following their defeats the Communists retreated and then began the "Long March". Mao, who was the leader of the Chinese Communist army during this period, realized the folly of directly taking on a more numerous and better trained army in set-piece battles to hold objectives like cities. He penned "On Guerilla War" in 1937, detailing his views on how the Nationalists should be defeated. He explicitly advocated a lengthy guerilla-style conflict, designed to wear down and frustrate the Nationalist forces. A relevant quote from Mao: The enemy advances, we retreat; The enemy camps, we harass; The enemy tires, we attack; The enemy retreats, we pursue. I compare this to the experience of the Islamic Totalitarians, who (early on) stood by the hundreds to engage American forces in combat, only to be slaughtered. The April 2004 battle for Fallujah stands out as a good example. After numerous similar defeats the "insurgents" no longer dare face our military directly. There is a difference in the fact that the Chinese Communists were outside the cities trying to take them and the "insurgents" were waiting inside the city for American forces to attack. However, there is a striking shift in both cases away from direct confrontation and toward guerilla-style warfare.