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  • Location Trescott, ME; Concord, MA
  1. Reason and logic

    See the chapter in Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology on "Concepts of Consciousness".
  2. Why is there a ship in this painting?

    The authors of the Declaration of Independence had "jumped ship"?
  3. Atlas Shrugged Part 3

    What was the "message" projected by the movie?
  4. Objectivist Environmental Ethics

    Everything would be at your disposal no matter to what degree you worked to make it. You would know you made it, which is different from using something you find, but that wouldn't distinguish it from your using anything at all that exists for your own purpose whether or not you made it. Ownership does not mean "I made it". There would be no moral difference, as a matter of ownership, between eating corn you planted and picking berries from a field you happened to wander into. The closed you could come is something like a raccoon eating the corn you planted, and you not liking that after all the effort you put into it. But morality and rights don't apply to animals, who do what they are born to do and make no conceptual or moral choices. The animal kingdom does not give rise to the concept of rights, or property rights and ownership in particular. You would still know the concept of ownership if you already held it and everyone else suddenly disappeared, but the point of the abstraction projecting no one else around you, ever, is what facts are available to motivate and form the concept? Ownership distinguishes what is yours from what is not, either unowned, or controlled right by others. With no others, the concept of ownership does not arise. Concepts classify things together that are similar against things that are commensurably different, like two shades of red against a blue, to group the two red shades under the concept "red". Without difference there is no similarity. With no social context there is no reason to group together the things that you "own", as opposed to grouping together the things you made against those you didn't. In a context of no other people around, you are morally right to use anything on earth and the concept of rights or ownership do not arise.
  5. Objectivist Environmental Ethics

    No, if there were no one else around you would have a concept of self but not of 'mine' in the sense of ownership because there would be nothing to distinguish it from. There is you versus everything else, and there is a distinction between what you have made or used or seen versus everything else, but no facts giving rise to the concept of ownership.
  6. Objectivist Environmental Ethics

    If you were all alone and there were no context of other men in society than what would it mean to say "it is mine" -- as distinguished from what?
  7. Objectivist Environmental Ethics

    Ownership of a particular property is your right of use and disposal for that property. See the discussion of property rights in "The Property Status Of Airwaves" in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal. Ownership doesn't mean you can do anything you want with the property in the name of "ownership". If you own a gun you can't go out and shoot people with it just because you own it. If you own a book, you own that particular copy of the book, not the copyright allowing you to make and disseminate more copies of it. All rights are contextual.
  8. Stating that someone engaged in a "long study of evolution of ideas of Aristotle" in "organizing" facts and refusing to address all the arguments made against it under claims of "disrespect" does not answer what I wrote, and you still haven't answered it. Citing someone you claim to be an "expert" in irrelevant reference to Aristotle and without explanation, then refusing in the name of "respect", is in fact an argument from authority. You cannot "recreate Objectivism" from Ayn Rand's theory of universals. She didn't do it that way herself and never presented it that way either. You can't do it.
  9. While your posts on some aspects of software engineering "Objectivism applied to software engineering" didn't say how or why it was trying to be an application of Ayn Rand's philosophy, experience trying to understand and organize any kind of science or engineering is enough to motivate anyone who is at all intellectual and philosophically minded into broader questions of epistemology, not just systematic thinking. The gravity of the decline of our culture you refer to, due in part to rationalism and lack of ability to think in abstractions (i.e., abstractions connected to reality), can be seen almost everywhere. The problem becomes more acute in higher level abstractions beyond the first level, i.e., beyond integrations of perceptual concretes, leading, especially among intellectuals, to all kinds of rationalism in the form of what Ayn Rand identified as the fallacies of floating abstractions, frozen abstractions, and stolen concepts among the sea of invalid concepts in general. Ayn Rand emphasizes the failure to employ higher level abstractions in "Consciousness and Identity", chapter 8 of IOE. Rorty is only one example of the attack, promoting his acknowledged undermining of epistemology, and attack on the mind as aware of the world, in the name of philosophy. But to call Rorty a "mystic" and reacting against him with a horror in isolation misses the historical point. Rorty is only one example of a long line, especially in this country, of Pragmatists who have dominated intellectuals in America for well over a century. Their affect is everywhere and it has come right out of and is part of the Kantian tradition Ayn Rand identified. If you want to see hoards of Rorty horrors and their direct descendency from Kant, borrowing the skepticism of Hume 'empiricists' along the way, look at the Pragmatist movement in America. Read the history of its origins in Kuklick, The Rise of American Philosophy: Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1860-1930, and of its widespread influence in Menand, The Metaphysical Club: A Story of Ideas in America, both discussed in the thread on the Forum Living in two 160 sq ft shipping containers extolled as viro utopia. But be sure to review and listen first to Leonard Peikoff's excellent lecture series from the 1970s on the history of western philosophy, particularly in this context, the lecture on Pragmatism. It is now very inexpensive to download the whole original recorded series if you don't already have it Founders of Western Philosophy: Thales to Hume Modern Philosophy: Kant to the Present and there is now a free course version in progress at the ARI campus series History of Philosophy.
  10. Burgess Laughlin: July 4, 1944 - August 29, 2014

    Burgess used to post here with very serious ideas and I missed him when he stopped. The Forum has lost too many good people -- Stephen Speicher, Janet Busch, Lady Brin, Bill Bucko, others?, and now this. Any one would have been too many.
  11. Again, it's important that the 'general audience' realize that at the epistemology workshops Ayn Rand explicitly denied that the process of these generalizations is the same as the method of generalization in concept formation, which she regarded as a different form of induction. She did of course agree that understanding concept formation is a prerequisite
  12. Burgess's legacy does not need protection from us, but you are not helping it by appealing to him as an authority in avoiding defending a false statement, and then insisting in the name of personal values that explanations rejecting it it are to be ignored as "disrespect" presumably not worth answering. Ayn Rand's philosophy cannot be recreated from her theory of universals. One part of that philosophy is rejection of obsequious appeals to authority.
  13. New Objectivism based Math Book

    Those interested in this topic from the perspective of Objectivist epistemology will find a lot of good discussions right here on the Forum, including answers to many commonly asked questions about such topics as the meaning of number versus Russell, the meaning of geometrical concepts, the "crisis" in mathematics, the mathematical infinite, irrational numbers, complex numbers, sets, mathematical axioms, the number systems, limits, the countable versus uncountable and Cantor's cardinals, the meaning of precision in physics and inductive generalizations, etc. These topics and Objectivist conceptions contrasted with conventional or popular views have been discussed and formulated at least since the 1960s.
  14. Washington Examiner If it's wet, EPA wants to regulate it By Ron Arnold | August 12, 2014 Few outrages perpetrated by President Obamas Environmental Protection Agency can match its proposed rule titled Definition of Waters of the United States Under the Clean Water Act. It would remove navigable from American water law and take federal command of all waters of the United States, or WOTUS. It redefines waters as nearly everything that could get wet, including most of the land in America. Under WOTUS, every seasonal stream bed, puddle and ditch in the nation would be ruled by the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers armed enforcers, bypassing Congress and sidestepping the U.S. Supreme Court in the process. Congress is helpless to stop it EPA-loving Democrats have a death grip on Senate bills and there arent the votes to override Obamas certain veto. The Supreme Court has twice struck down major pieces of the proposed rule, which the EPA blithely ignored and merely changed the words, hired scientific shills to patch over the flaws, and created this new EPA has been buying support from Big Green groups on water issues since at least 1994, which came to light in an inspector general report of three cooperative agreements to the Natural Resources Defense Council totaling $3,260,467 for storm water education and market transformation of energy efficient products from 1994 to 2005. The IG reported, We questioned $1,419,548 of reported outlays because [NRDC] did not maintain the necessary documentation to fully support the reported costs, as required by Federal regulations. Big Green foundations have been lusting after WOTUS power since the late 1990s. Foundation Search shows 74 Clean Water Act grants totaling $5,261,449 since 2002, Barack Obamas last year on the Joyce Foundation board (1994-2002). Joyce gave $220,000 in CWA-related grants, $100,000 of it to NRDC in 2002. NRDC received $705,000 in 13 CWA-related grants from four foundations. But dumbfounding as WOTUS is, thats not what makes this horror extraordinary. The fury ignited by WOTUS an entry in the Federal Register that could easily be ignored as just another technical bureaucratic maneuver is whats remarkable: Where the rule says water, a substantial public correctly hears land. They get it. They really get it. WOTUS strikes many as the most vicious land grab since Lenin returned to St. Petersburg. The EPAs intent, unlike its usual smokescreen of lies, is transparent. And that annoys people. It annoys them very, very much. Heres why I say that: In June, when Bob Stallman testified before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee as president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, it was no surprise that he told them, The bottom line is that the expansion of the waters regulated under the Clean Water Act has enormous implications for small business entities that the agencies have not considered, much less explained. EPA is deliberately misleading the regulated community. He was politely saying he was perfectly aware that WOTUS would give federal regulators unlimited power to dictate how farmers farm, and he didnt trust EPAs promise to exempt farmers irrigation ditches. Farmers can smell EPA land-grab lies even under a heap of WOTUS manure. Stallman told me at the time, Ive been farming for decades and I can tell you that ditches are meant to carry water. Ditches will be regulated under this rule! I discovered that the American Farm Bureau was taking steps to protect its 6 million member families in an astonishingly well-designed website called Ditch the Rule. Its a Farm Bureau effort with all the social media clickables, hashtags and tweet buttons, including Ditches & puddles are not navigable.#DitchTheRule and Congress, not federal agencies, makes the laws.#WOTUS, among others. (Full disclosure: I tweeted them all and got a lot of retweets.) The Farm Bureau is a trade association obligated to guard farmer interests, so the real surprise came in an email from an unrelated nonprofit that jumped in with a Ditch the Rule campaign of its own just because it was the right thing to do: the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow, which usually deals with climate change, energy and poverty issues. I asked CFACT Executive Director Craig Rucker about it. We almost didnt pick it up because it seemed off-target for our supporters, but with farmers taking on this huge WOTUS problem to save themselves, we just couldnt stand by and do nothing. Astonishingly, we only started our Ditch the Rule campaign two weeks ago and last week our Facebook page got over a million hits. Our supporters get it. WOTUS has hit a nerve in America, a really big nerve. I asked Mace Thornton, the Farm Bureaus communications executive director, whether he was aware that CFACT had joined the fray. He wasnt, but welcomed the help. Weve been encouraging our members to share their individual stories through social media and theyve responded overwhelmingly. Its good to know our reach is extending far beyond our organization. We know our work has only begun. The EPA is sweating. Theres a page on the EPA website trying lamely to discredit Farm Bureau facts. EPA should sweat. I sense an incipient mass movement targeting WOTUS. It is not inconceivable that fed-up citizens could appear on farms across the nation in peaceful protests to face down EPA enforcers and say, Ditch the Rule. RON ARNOLD, a Washington Examiner columnist, is executive vice president of the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise.