Scott A.

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Everything posted by Scott A.

  1. Don't shutdown the forum!

    Given what executor is doing, I'm not sure if THE FORUM is shutting down or not. However, I was sad to read earlier in this thread that the plan has been to shut it down. Obviously I haven't been an active contributor in some time, but not because I'm particularly active on Facebook. Nor is it because I haven't had any responses to subjects that arise, and I have certainly thought of a variety of topics to bring up. However, the practicality of my life for a good while has left me whipped at the end of a day and catching up on more immediate issues on weekends. My hope was that THE FORUM would continue as it has in the past and would be here when I could come back more regularly. However, I see that places like this exist and thrive only when members post, and I should have made time to do more of it. Betsy, should THE FORUM ultimately close down, let me thank you, Stephen, and all of those who have helped you run such an excellent, thought-provoking, and classy place for discussing Objectivism. And here's to hoping my path crosses again, either here or in other parts of cyberspace, with so many of the great members of THE FORUM.
  2. Happy Birthday to Scott A.

    I'm late to my own party! Thank you very much. It was a good day. I hope to post here more often in the coming year. I hope all is well with everyone. Great cartoons, John!
  3. This past October, my then-girlfriend, now-fiancé, and I decided to tackle the basement. It’s carpeted, painted, and roomy, but was somewhat loaded with a disorganized bunch of things. These included furniture, boxes of trinkets, books, and so forth. The space is entirely livable and comfortable, but we haven’t made use of it. So, our goal was to organize and get rid of things so that we can use the space. Lyndsy is much better at getting rid of things than me. She has gently, but firmly, pointed this out to me. Her point was that I hold on to some things beyond their use and/or value. She is right. However, in fairness to myself, I have lived alone for a number of years and haven’t had a strongly compelling reason to go through my possessions. They have sat in out-of-the-way, but visible, places with only a suggestion and hope in my mind that they might be put to some kind of future use. As I would discover, there were other reasons why they occupied such spaces. Since I have wanted to make the basement more livable and use the space, I was excited to take the project on. In fact, it was I who pushed us forward into it on a Saturday afternoon. The work until dinner largely involved moving things around and out of the way, as well as cleaning. We ate and then went back to it. This time, though, the focus was on getting rid of things. I was first asked to get rid of unwanted/unneeded books and other objects in or on top of a couple bookshelves. I knew the books were there, as they are in the open, and knew what a number of them were. However, I hadn’t actually gone through them and certainly not with an eye toward discarding any of them. As I did, I realized that a number of the books and other things belonged to my dad. My dad died four years ago. I could say many things about the man, but will suffice it to say that he was my best friend. If I had never discovered Ayn Rand and Objectivism, I can still say I would have lived a good and rational life because of my dad. That’s what he means to me. I hadn’t looked seriously at any of his belongings since I put them where they were, which was shortly after his death. Some of the items were strictly his, others were given to him by me or my sisters. All of them brought into mind a flood of memories. It was difficult, and I felt the emotions rise up. I didn’t want to break down in front of Lyndsy. She wouldn’t have minded, but I still didn’t want to. Also, the whole thing was unexpected; I simply wasn’t thinking about what I would uncover, or what it would uncover in me, when I delved in. But there it was, and I tried to contain it. So we forged on and I was mostly quiet, except for explaining why to keep something, or get rid of it, or telling a story about the history of some item. But as we moved from books to paintings to furniture, the emotions kept coming. She could tell something was wrong with me, especially when I snapped at her unfairly. I finally explained that I hadn’t looked at these things in a long time and was having difficulty with it. I apologized. She understood and didn’t press. We continued on for about an hour. I thought about what was happening mentally for me, in the moment, but much more afterward. There were several things. I was experiencing memories and all the thoughts and emotions that went with them. I also had to judge whether or not to keep the objects. After all, that was the task at hand. Did it matter to me if I kept some book or picture that was important to my dad? Did the power of his interest in some object influence my own interest in it? If I kept something would I actually utilize or take pleasure in it? If I got rid of something, would I regret it? Would I be getting rid of some connection to him, even if the connection was only in my mind? By discarding some thing, would I also be discarding some experience or some person? I remember after my dad died, I alternated between detached numbness and intense crying, multiple times a day. I recall thinking how I didn’t want to stop crying, because those tears were the most immediate, concrete things I had as a connection to him. I thought that if I stopped crying, he would be that much further away from me. But I also knew that I would stop crying, that he would want me to stop and move on, and that I’m not the type to cry that much. So, I stopped and moved on. Mostly. There were still his possessions—those things I had put in known places, but didn’t regularly see, and so somewhat forgot. Practically, there was no reason to put them in plain sight—the upstairs was fully (and to Lyndsy’s eye, overly) decorated. Psychologically, I didn’t want to see them, by which I mean I didn’t want their constant presence to be a regular reminder of his permanent absence. So I put them where there was space, and where I knew, at some level, I would see them again. But not too soon. There were also my own possessions that I had to look at and evaluate. Books I haven’t read in years, but would like to again. Something given to me that I hoped would fill some space in the house, but hadn’t yet. Things that could serve a purpose, but only a small one, and so were not as important. I had to choose which parts of my life to let go, if not totally, then at least physically. I had to judge the psychological value of objects.
  4. The Psychological Value of Objects, Part 1

    Now that's motivation. Thank you very much, and I appreciate the thoughts you offered to this conversation.
  5. The Psychological Value of Objects, Part 1

    Thanks ewv and Paul! I actually started writing a response on Saturday night to things you each wrote, but then got tired and haven't gotten back to it yet. I'm also working on the second part. To your question, I'm sure there are writings on this, but I can't say I'm overly familiar with them. There is a sub-school of Psychoanalytic thought called Object Relations that has some bearing on this. Even among the Analysts I think it's considered somewhat esoteric, but they have some interesting ideas and I use a couple in therapy. I doubt I'll ever contribute to the literature in any established school of thought for a couple reasons. First, I'm not an academic. Second, I'm not a member of any of those schools. I would like to write some relatively brief books, but who knows when. I don't seem to have enough time to write the second part of this essay. However, encouragement such as yours definitely motivates me, and so I thank you both again.
  6. The Psychological Value of Objects, Part 1

    Thank you very much, Mary.
  7. The Psychological Value of Objects, Part 1

    Best leave this to the professionals.
  8. The Psychological Value of Objects, Part 1

    Years. You might find it interesting to know I have never asked this question. However, I have asked many times the question, "How long have you thought this (way)?"
  9. The Psychological Value of Objects, Part 1

    Yes. And I'll have more to say in future posts.
  10. The Psychological Value of Objects, Part 1

    What can I say? (Hit the button too soon last time.)
  11. The Psychological Value of Objects, Part 1

    What can I say?
  12. The Psychological Value of Objects, Part 1

    Absolutely true.
  13. The Psychological Value of Objects, Part 1

    Yes, Arnold, you get what I'm speaking to.
  14. The Psychological Value of Objects, Part 1

    I'm not sure you understood the point being made. Perhaps it will be clearer in subsequent writings.
  15. The Trust Molecule

    Yes.
  16. Mind and consciousness

    I'm not sure what you mean by how the subconscious is presented to self-awareness. For instance, do you mean the mental content that comes from the subconscious into awareness or the process that makes that happen (or something else)? I suspect that you mean the latter of the two. Maybe an example or two would help clarify this. Lets say I'm thinking about what I want for dinner but am not at home. One thing I could do is consciously ask my subconscious to give me an image of the contents of my freezer or cupboards. I then visualize with the aid of memory what I have and judge what seems good. Or, I could ask my mind to run through a list of types of food and related restaurants that I might want to go to and a similar thing would result. Both acts are volitional in that I'm choosing to focus my mind on particular mental contents related to my interest and the automatic processes of my subconscious act to give me the information. The process here is largely retrieval and it's straightforward. I ask and my subconscious responds. A somewhat more complex process is what Dr. Binswanger refers to in the aforementioned lectures as "standing orders." This is when you give your subconscious a command to be on alert for some kind of information in the future. An example would be that I love Italian food and so have given myself a standing order to be on alert for information regarding good Italian restaurants. I go about my business, often for days or months, without ever consciously thinking about good Italian restaurants. However, I then hear some people discussing just this topic and my ears perk up. I'm immediately focused on what is being said so I can remember it. So, it is certainly possible to "prime" one's subconscious to be on alert for information to come in the future. In both cases, it's true one doesn't necessarily "see" the process at work. But I'm not sure if that's important. Additionally, at least some primary mental processes can be either subconscious or conscious, such as association and integration. Associations among objects, events, etc. can occur automatically, but one can also volitionally engage in the act of associating such things. Similarly, integrating concepts or other mental material can happen either way. Rearden's solution would be an example of the integration (and creation) happening subconsciously. However, he had also tried to solve it consciously, which is actually the impetus for coming to the solution the way he did. I'm not certain if this addresses what you are discussing, but hopefully so.
  17. Mind and consciousness

    In addition to what others wrote, I would add that there is a difference among levels of consciousness, which is what I think the above example and similar ones you quoted demonstrate. The different levels are the conscious, subconscious, and unconscious. The conscious level is one's awareness and is volitional. The subconscious is everything else held in one's mind, but that is not currently conscious (but can be through introspection or calling something to mind with memory). It operates automatically, but in tandem with the conscious. The unconscious is basically one's brain processes, which cannot be directly observed via introspection. Rearden's solution to the bridge problem came to him because of his active and rational psycho-epistemology. This refers to the interaction between his conscious and subconscious. Specifically, Rearden had been actively trying to solve the problem and had undoubtedly called on his subconscious to give him the information he needed. However, because of the complexity of the problem, he didn't immediately come up with a conscious solution. Yet his subconscious kept working on the problem and it ultimately "popped" into his mind. The subconscious is meant to be an aid to the conscious mind in just this way. Its value is also shown in the example of Dagny's pre-conscious decision to act. Some situations require one to act quickly and don't allow for extensive, if any, conscious deliberation. But this doesn't mean the mind isnt' active; it's that the subconscious is the most active level in terms of the decision-making because of the significance of the situation. (Dr. Binswanger's lectures on psycho-epistemology delve much more deeply into this topic and are fascinating. I recommend them.)
  18. Happy Birthday to Scott A.

    Thank you all very much! It was a fine day. (I like the cartoon!)
  19. The Outcasts by Bill Bucko

    I had the pleasure of reading the book a couple years ago when Bill was posting a couple chapters here. It's excellent and I highly recommend it. Congratulations, Bill!
  20. Happy Birthday to Betsy Speicher

    Happy Birthday, Betsy! I hope it was a great one, and many more to come.
  21. The Left's Call to Violence

    Jimmy Hoffa called for "Labor" to "take the sons of bitches out" (see here). Biden (the lunkhead) said Labor is keeping the barbarians from the gate (see here). Both are referring to the Tea Party, and both are engaging in a call to violence. The link to Biden is a snippet of his speech at an AFL-CIO rally. He is clearly whipping up the crowd into a fighting mood. He explicitly states there is a declared "war" on "Labor's House," or "working people." What he says in this excerpt is dominated by the theme of violence. However, it is, of course, "justified" violence. So, this is their plan(?). They are going to unleash the Labor Movement on the Tea Party? What does this look like in reality? What do they mean to have happen? What are they either encouraging or directing their "army" to do? My guess is what they have already done, but more so. They will show up at political events where they know Tea Party people will be and will physically intimidate, if not criminally attack, Tea Party members. I predict there will be some ugly confrontations between now and the next presidential election, which the liberal media will try to blame on the Tea Party. Will it work? I don't think so, for a several reasons. First, the liberal media is not nearly as powerful as it once was. Second, there will be many cameras at these events and the footage of what really happens will get out and be fairly widely distributed. Next, the Tea Partiers themselves won't be intimidated; they won't initiate a fight, but they will be willing to stand their ground. Finally, and this is even more speculative, the passivity of a significant percent of the populace won't be stirred by Labor's big war. Perhaps the left has, to an extent, achieved one of its goals: creating a docile citizenry. But that has not, and cannot, ultimately help them achieve their goal of domination. Passive men are not stirred to action; their learned inclination is to "weather the storm." On the other hand, not everyone is passive. Some are willing to fight while others are not yet so. However, those as yet unwilling, I predict, will not be inspired by the thug tactics about to be employed. They may get scared, but they will also get angry. And in some parts of this country, it's a bad idea to get the people angry. Also, the left's psychology has become so transparent. Here they are the aggressors yet try to convince themselves that they are the victims of aggression. They declare war by falsely asserting that war has been declared upon them. This perfectly captures their cowardly dangerousness. They will shoot you in the back and claim self-defense. The X-factor in all this is the Republicans. They either do not understand what this administration intends to do or refuse to understand it. Obviously the latter is the worse. To the extent that this bears on the next Republican presidential candidate, I would say that he will need to be very tough and himself a fighter. That rules out Romney.
  22. Happy Birthday to Brad Harrington

    I hope you had a great birthday, Brad! Congratulations on all your hard work and success.
  23. The Left's Call to Violence

    I don't expect them to refrain. My prediction is that they will be violent, precisely because they have already been violent. Now they are being encouraged in it by a "private-public" partnership between the White House and the major unions. While the statements I linked to are disturbing enough, the media silence in reporting them is more so. Our main, Fox-affiliated, very big AM talk-radio station mentioned nothing about them. They are usually pretty good about reporting controversies. I guess this either wasn't considered controversial or, more likely, it is so controversial that they dare not (in their minds) report it.
  24. Happy Birthday to Alon Tsin

    Happy Birthday, Alon!
  25. Happy Birthday to alann

    My apologies for the late greetings, but I hope you had a wonderful birthday, Alan! Go ahead and celebrate all week; doctor's orders.