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  1. Real time reports on Ayn Rand study-group

    SCHEDULE START WEEK - Monday, 29th June, 2015. END WEEK - Monday, 2nd August, 2015. Week 1 YEARS IN RUSSIA Monday, 29th June - Sunday, 5th July - Russia in Turmoil - Philosophical Studies (Pg 217-222) Week 2 INITIAL YEARS IN AMERICA, TILL THE PUBLICATION OF "THE FOUNTAINHEAD" Monday, 6th July - Sunday, 12th July - America – Free to write - An ideal man, a man of reason (Pg 222-228) Week 3 FROM RECEPTION OF "THE FOUNTAINHEAD", TO THE RECEPTION OF "ATLAS SHRUGGED" Monday, 13th July - Sunday, 19th July - (Contd..) An ideal man, a man of reason - The final novel (Pg 228-233) Week 4 NON FICTION WRITINGS AND INTELLECTUAL ACTIVISM (PART 1) (Works other than Epistemology) Monday, 20th July - Sunday, 26th July - Changing vehicles - A Philosopher's provisional summary - Opening and Closing channels - Branch Books (Pg 233-241) Week 5 NON FICTION WRITINGS AND INTELLECTUAL ACTIVISM (PART 2) (Mainly work related to Epistemology) Monday, 27th July - Sunday, 2nd August - A Definition of Reason - Shifting Gears - Reason as Integration (Pg 241-245) Week 6 REVIEW, SUMMARY, AND FUTURE STUDIES Monday, 29th June, 2015. I have framed 48 Questions which I will split across 5 weeks. Participants can answer all or some of those questions. Of course, participants are free to study by summarizing, outlining, or chewing sections of their choice from the text under study for that week.
  2. Purpose of this thread is to describe what is happening in Ayn Rand study group we announced here - The updates will be real time, that is within day or two of event happening.
  3. Real time reports on Ayn Rand study-group

    The main study-group is just 1 week away.... Continuing preparatory studies, today I posted final set of preparatory questions. These also will be answered later this week. Originals are posted here :- THE POWER AND THE GLORY ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Questions Q1. What information does “Acknowledgments” here give about the nature of book? Q2. What role did various other individuals play in this book? Q3. Who reviewed the Ayn Rand chapter?
  4. Real time reports on Ayn Rand study-group

    Today I posted answers to questions I had posted on Tuesday, 16th june as part preparatory. Sharing sample here. All answers can be viewed in the link. --------------------------------- Q7. In current context, why does the writer think its necessary to define key terms like reason? Ans: The term like reason refers to idea. However, if we look at the history of that idea, we see that its terms have changed from logos, to ratio, to raison etc. And more importantly, the debater's interpretation of the idea varies. However, there has to be one meaning in reality that should be used as a standard. Then the position of debaters can be compared against this standard. This method of comparison thus offers continuity across debaters of same idea. And thus the definition acts as a standard, making it easier to abstract relevant elements in position. ---------------------------------
  5. Trailer can be viewed here **************************SPOILER ALERT******************* "Tanu Weds Manu returns" starts with the separation of Indian couple in London, Tanu and Manu. Cause of separation can easily be inferred to as the overly dominating nature of Tanu. On return to India, Tanu starts flirting with her ex-boyfriends and new neighbor, while still getting information on what Manu is upto. When she realizes that Manu is marrying her lookalike Kusum, she tries to mock her. On failing, she insists on attending the marriage. Finally, at the last moment Kusum realizes that Manu is not prepared to marry her, and on being asked Manu decides to return to Tanu. I was profoundly impacted by this movie. Director Anand Rai is turning out to be the Dostovesky of Bollywood. Comparing Romantic literature Dostovesky was part of(completely different from Yash Chopra type romantic movies), to Naturalism. What stands out is that in Romanticism every aspect of art product is extremely relevant to the overall product. In naturalist movie "Bhag Milkha Bhag" for example, or "Paan Singh Tomar", there were many events which made little or no contribution to the overall pursuit of characters' goals. In fact in both cases, the goals got changed in the middle of story. In "Tanu Weds Manu returns" however, the goals of main characters are clear from the beginning to the end, even though most of the realization comes once the movie is over. And every scene and dialog is directed to present that pursuit. So from Tanu's flirtations with multiple men, to Manu's passive commitment to Kusum, to Kusum's contextually rational acts to direct Manu into a healthy romantic relationship. The goals are clear from the start. Tanu wants to dominate men to the extreme, and therefore wants someone who can be torn apart emotionally and still wants to remain with her. Manu wants a healthy relationship which is also emotionally gratifying. Kusum wants a life where she can assert her independence and yet live joyously with her family or romantic partner. BUT there is a sub-category in Romanticism. There are rational goals and there are irrational goals. What ought to be right path can be asserted by showing characters pursuing right goals and succeeding. This was positive Romanticism of Victor Hugo, Ayn Rand, and reluctantly pursued but still positive Romanticism of Nanthaniel Howthorne in "The Scarlet Letter". In the declining years of Enlightenment however, Dostovesky became the king of negative Romanticism. Here what is right was indirectly demonstrated when main characters pursued wrong goals and failed. "Crime and Punishment" is the most vibrant story I can think of in this regard. Further, for Dostovesky whenever there was conflict between reason and emotion, emotion was given primacy. And here too Manu finally returns to Tanu, giving primacy to wrong emotions over right reasons. So when we look at the goals of three main characters, only one goal is achieved, that of Tanu. And of the three goals, this is the one which is an irrational goal. The achievement of this goal is at the cost of Manu's and Kusum's goals, and requires their approval. True, here the connection between goals and means is not direct. The irrational goal pursuit almost fails, but for the sanction of victims. And pursuit of rational goals fail, because of the weakness of one pursuing. The final takeway is that if you give primacy to wrong emotions over right reasons, like Manu you will end up accepting misery - again. Finally, I would highlight a scene of this movie, which I think is philosophically most significant scene in Bollywood to date. The one where Tanu encounters Kusum. She mocks her dressing sense, her personality. And she mocks Manu for sacrificing her for lady worth a dime. The answer she gets from Kusum is a perfect rebuttal. Her independence is questioned by presenting her dependence on father before, and husband later. She is told in no uncertain terms, that given her behavior, she does not deserve even iota of what she got. The dependence of Tanu is contrasted from independence of Kusum. Latter is a self-made national level athlete, and honestly earns for her family. The effect of this rebuttal, like any moral stand by a person of integrity against intimidating enemy, it shatters Tanu to the core. Till now manipulating and conniving Tanu is emotionally broken. True, she continues the tactics to attract Manu, but the confidence is all but gone. And she realizes that final outcome rests on the character weakness of Manu. As an important sidenote, the movie and its interpretations are suffering from a major distortion. People are taking this to be an example of normal marital discord, and accepting compromise as a good solution. Nothing can be further away from truth. All marital arguments cannot be clubbed as being of same type. I think we should broadly classify three types of marital problems. One where both sides rationally evaluate options and conclude that there are irreconcilable priorities. An example of this can be husband-wife having different view of own and other's career, and hoping that other will make way for me to succeed. Then there are other types of fights, where too both have rationally evaluated, but one makes an error in judgment. An example of this can be a situation where the two are trying to evaluate their spending needs, and one suggestion proposes to sacrifice things that are necessary for them in life for luxurious or comforting items. And then there are situations like we have in the movie. Here only motivation for the spouse is to break the soul of her other half. Twisting words and narratives to distort reality, and extract disproportional guilt for actions. If this is the motivation and attitude, then no compromise can save except genuine change of heart. And given the cultural atmosphere we live in today, rarely are tools available for such change in late adoloscence. Finally to conclude, I think the movie, though imperfect, is step in the right direction. Connected movies of Romanticism have power to motivate like few other art works can. We should learn virtues of Integrity, Independence, from the character of Kusum in "Tanu Weds Manu returns". And learn to give primacy to right reasons over badly understood emotions.
  6. Real time reports on Ayn Rand study-group

    Continuing preparatory studies, today I posted second set of questions. These also will be answered later this week. Originals are posted here :- INTRODUCTION TO “THE POWER AND THE GLORY” (PART 2) Questions Q7. In current context, why does the writer think its necessary to define key terms like reason? Q8. Briefly explain reason, as it is described here? Q9. Briefly explain faith, as it is described here? Q10. How does structure of philosophy help writer and reader? Q11. Summarize each branch of philosophy with brief description? Q12. How can studying references at later point of time be useful? What is the nature of these references?
  7. Real time reports on Ayn Rand study-group

    Today I posted answers to questions I had posted on Tuesday, 9th june as part preparatory. Sharing sample here. All answers can be viewed in the link. ---------------------------------------------- Q6. What is the theme of this book? Ans: The theme is to understand how success is achieved in dissemination of ideas. That is through commitment to develop the position on ideas, and through persistent effort to advance these ideas. That is, the power of debaters is in understanding the ideas, and glory lies in disseminating these ideas. ----------------------------------------------
  8. Real time reports on Ayn Rand study-group

    Also today I posted questions from Introduction of the book http://forum.objecti...363#entry336226 ------------------------------------------ INTRODUCTION TO “THE POWER AND THE GLORY” (PART 1) Questions Q1. Which non-fiction category book belongs to? What is it about? ( Just give key terms and their importance. Further details can be deferred to A4. on scope ) Q2. Who are the intended audience, and what can they expect in this book? Q3. What is the purpose of this book? Q4. What is the scope of this book? Q5. What was the procedure employed by the writer to write this book? Q6. What is the theme of this book? ------------------------------------------
  9. Real time reports on Ayn Rand study-group

    Study-Group starts on June 29. Till then I am publishing some preparatory material in advertisement thread. I have published Ayn Rand's timeline here - http://forum.objecti...363#entry336226 Further I plan to study Introduction and Acknowledgments from the book in Q&A form.

    STUDY GROUP ON "AYN RAND" CHAPTER FROM "THE POWER AND THE GLORY" BY BURGESS LAUGHLIN PURPOSE OF STUDY-GROUPS Organised self-study, that is the ability to think and communicate in a structured manner, is an important part of almost all professions. Successful action requires thought that efficiently organizes facts, infers conclusions based on valid principles, and facilitates implementable guidelines for success. By regularly participating in study-groups, people can develop discipline it takes to excel in life. PURPOSE OF THIS STUDY-GROUP In past two centuries Western thought has witnessed greatest intellectual decline in the history of mankind. The ideas that led to science of Newton, technology of Edison, and politics that ended centuries of feudalism have been discredited. The decline has impacted education, government, corporate and medical institutions, news media, movies, and mental well-being of mankind in general. The ideas of Ayn Rand promise not just resurrection of ideas that make good things possible, but also build them further. And this study group will introduce you to ideas of Ayn Rand in most concise way possible. Whether its her life, her fiction works, non-fiction, or her activism; everything will be available for you to grasp. So to improve your thought process, please check the link that gives details of study-group. SPECIFICS OF THE STUDY GROUP The study can involve writing summary, writing outline, detailed analysis or synthesis of select section(informally referred as chewing), or answering few / some / all of the questions I will post in the forum. Depending on the type of study, individual needs to spend 10 minutes to 1 hour per day. He can also complete his study in advance, and post on corresponding week. The study-group will be from "chapter 8" on "Ayn Rand" in the book "The Power and The Glory" by Burgess Laughlin. It starts on 29th June, 2015. Please note that participation is not possible without the membership of forum. REMEMBERING BURGESS August 29 last year Burgess passed away. 4th July, 2015 marks his 71st birthday. Burgess, as some of you might know was the non-fiction writer. He specialized in "History of Intellectuals", writing selective biographies of various intellectuals. Emphasis being on the development and dissemination of their ideas. He was also passionate about study-groups, and dedicated to the cause. Leaving behind treasure of various targetted discussions. Of course, he was an Objectivist, an activist for reason using rational discourse. Therefore, the study-group starts on birthweek of Burgess. HOW TO PARTICIPATE In the following thread, please post your intent to participate after sign up. The final study group will take place in a separate thread. Only those who volunteer here by posting intent will be allowed to post there. Posting the intent can be as simple as writing "I will participate". But from the perspective of overall objective of study-groups, which involves trading of ideas, I think it would be good if the volunteers post their motivations and personal objectives of joining. Further, it would be better if the volunteer gives his intellectual, academic and professional history. Here is a link to the forum where final study group will take place. http://forum.objecti...p?showforum=121 Looking forward to an engaging study-group where we improve our thinking, understanding and knowledge.
  11. P.S: First 10 minutes discuss "Antigone" by ancient Greek playright Sophocles.
  12. MOVIE REVIEW - PK(Drunkard)

    After discussions with readers, and further thinking based on the discussion, I realized that while I was promoting objectivity throughout the review, I had ended on a somewhat subjective note. So I here is the updated my conclusion --------------------------- CONCLUSION In complete review, I would have also focused on aspects like screenplay, cinematography, costumes, music, sets, sensibilities etc. In short, director's sensibilities amount to making a hero out of a bully, or resentment towards even genuine rules like wearing clothes and applying tone and gestures to words for denoting context. Most other aspects are quite good and play an important role in highlighting critical elements in theme and plot. Overall however, these aspects of movie are not as important as theme and plot. Not if you are a non-technical viewer who needs to derive spiritual fuel from an art work. In complete scheme of things, the movie should be given one cheer for standing up to something as fundamentally mistaken as religion, and for depicting technical aspects of cinema well. But art and cinema need to do much more for promoting reason in order to resurrect man. Specifically, more emphasis should be given to plots that are driven by value judgments. Of course, I would like rational value judgments to move the story, but even irrational values as movers in movies like Rise of Planet of Apes, or partly rational values for movies mentioned will do. While I give example of Communism as "non-religious but dogmatic". At a deeper level, unless people have confidence in their own judgment, they will continue to hold to dogma in one form or other. And therefore we need to promote good epistemology, that is right method of thinking. And since majority consume "methods of thinking", particularly for judgment of right and wrong, through art products like cinema. Therefore, cinema has to be rational in all major fronts I have highlighted. In particular in demonstrating power of right and wrong judgments, and in highlighting that in longer run, a mistake done using own judgment is much better than 10 safe actions using dogma. (When I say that judgments have to be independent, I do not imply that we need to make every decision starting from reinvention of wheel. Going by the advice of trusted individuals, whether professionals or friends or books is a valid judgment. But contrasted from dogma, the basis of trusted advice is also a rational judgment, where we evaluate the knowledge and skill of person to be trusted.) -------------------
  13. MOVIE REVIEW - PK(Drunkard)

    *****Contains mild spoilers******** Trailer available here - BACKGROUND - Its a 2014 Bollywood movie in Hindi. INTRODUCTION Given the controversy surrounding the movie, two false alternatives have emerged. One that says movie is bad because it hurts religious sentiments of people. And another that says it is good because it destroys religious myths, and is therefore rational. I think the criteria for classifying the movie as good or bad has to be wider. Therefore here I review primary aspects of the movie. THEME The theme of this movie demonstrates the fact about religion. That is how religion in various forms, as it is practiced on earth, is wrong. However, this theme should not be confused with what could have been a completely rational basis for storyline. That is, “there is no God and reason is the only means of living on earth”. The movie does not deny God, and it upholds reason at very few places. REVIEW OF THE THEME The most glaring aspect of the premises is their negativity. That is, while the movie quite comprehensively demonstrates irrational aspects of religions, it does not offer a valid alternative for living. However, one must recognize that religions, at least pagan and polytheistic ones like Hinduism, were an incomplete attempt to define rational code of values. Values, as we know are needed for guiding our short term and long term actions. In Hindu religious framework, Goddess Lakshmi represents wealth, Goddess Saraswati represents knowledge, Durga the courage to fight evil, Hanuman is epitome of body and mental strength, Krishna demonstrates the power of intellect, and so on. A more rational moral code could not have been written without Plato giving a framework that any philosophy and ethics(including religion) follow. And later Aristotle writing detailed books - explicitly defining, describing, applying concept of logic, and giving his own philosophy based on logic. In fact, it was not until Newton, that culture really started understanding how to use logic for solving their problems. Two-thousand years after Aristotle, and detailed study of his logic in the intermediate period by many scholars. Coming back to the movie, the implicit alternative it does offer to religion is altruism. That is if one sacrifices life and values for strangers, then one is in the right path. This can be judged by the fact that more the two main characters see each other as altruistic, the more they bond with one another. Another approach movie upholds is pragmatism. That is rejection of principles like right and wrong judgment, whenever it is inconvenient. We can see this in facts like the situation where PK is stealing clothes from cars, or money from religious places. History offers a very strong example of philosophy that rejects religion but upholds altruism. Communists claimed to be atheists in letter, but were actually religious in spirit. That is they were mostly dogmatic in claiming that “dictatorship of proletariats” was the right political option. And if we see the most murderous political regimes, it ranges from Stalin to Mao to Pol Pot, all Communists and much worse than Hitler. In short, “rejection of religion”, or any negative premise for that matter, is not a sufficient guide for leading a good and well-reasoned life. PLOT THEME Both theme and plot theme are general statements, and both refer to the events in the story. While the theme covers all or most of the events in story. The plot theme is less general. And it refers to those events which play important role in moving the story forward. So at a plot theme level PK is a story of an alien searching for his stolen transreceiver. And in the process discovers that religion is not the right way to pursue your goals. After his discovery he moves ahead to communicate his views to the mass media audience, because general awakening is the only way for him to recover the transreceiver. REVIEW OF THE PLOT THEME I think the premise of a character searching desperately for stolen object is very shallow and limiting. Personally, in 12000 days of my existence, if I were to recall number of hours spent searching desperately for a thing, it will not exceed 100 hours. Even if we consider impact, overall its our choices that determine course of our lives. Very rarely, an external negative event completely changes our life. Examples of more universal plot themes can be conflict between career and relationships of a travel consultant, in movie Yeh Jawani Hai Diwani. Or during a foreign trip conflict between accepting traditional values and modern lifestyle, in movie Queen. The “premise of turning towards religion” is a valid universal theme, but it has to be in the context of things and situations that occupy our mind more often. Search for a missing object can be a useful plot-theme for children movies, but not for the ones that should connect to adults pursuing deeper values. PLOT Plot of the movie can be divided into following parts(not necessarily chronological) : 1. Alien PK trying to look at survival options on earth, Rajasthan India in this case. I will classify this as Survival Phase. 2. PK acquiring skills like language, and turning towards religion to search for his stolen transreceiver. I will classify this part as Quest Phase. 3. PK meeting female protagonist Jaggu, and Jaggu getting convinced that PK is indeed alien. Meeting Jaggu. 4. After being motivated by Jaggu, PK trying to convince Godman that his communication with God is mistaken. Convincing Godman. 5. PK discovering that Godman is not mistaken but a lier. True motives. 6. PK falling in love with Jaggu. Falling in Love. 7. Climax where Godman is comprehensively proven wrong in front of mass audience. Climax. Sub Plot: Before she meets PK in New Delhi, Jaggu's love story in Belgium forms the subplot. In climax the sub-plot gets connected to the main plot. REVIEW OF DRIVING ELEMENTS IN PLOT Here I look in greater detail at various parts of plot described in previous section. In particular I analyze plot elements that move the story forward. 1. Survival Phase : PK, while depicted as an alien from advanced civilization, is closer to a savage or a tribal in his method of thinking and acting. An intelligent savage, but savage nevertheless. And actions here are similar to the bully who does not have any major goals in life, and instead troubles people who are trying to live their own lives without causing any trouble to others. A tribal who does not try to reason source of values like food and clothing. But instead is just interested in grabbing by crooked methods. 2. Quest Phase : Once he discovers means of survival, mainly through petty thefts, he does apply basic reasoning to discover that finding the transreceiver will require him to develop communication skills. While its a sci-fi movie, and imagination with regard to whats not likely in reality is permissible. I think its necessary to understand an aspect of a good sci-fi movie. That is what can be right technology in such movies, and what is wrong kind of technology. In Atlas Shrugged(novel), experimental and mathematical effort needed for discovering advanced generator was demonstrated. In Jurassic Park, technology like “artificially creating Dinosaurs” had realistic foundations in Genetics and cloning technology. The ability to learn language, and corresponding images and concepts by simply touching humans carries no such rational foundations. And therefore this driving force in plot is closer to supernatural. Further, PK taking religion seriously is another example of putting random opinion of people above one's rational considerations. True, eventually he starts questioning religion, but the extent to which a person changes his lifestyle based on random opinions of society, with very little analysis, is astounding here. One can argue that being an alien he may not be having any other option. But given what I have seen in previous Raju Hirani movies, I think alien context is only a means for the director to project his view of man. A man really comfortable in allowing his life to be run by others, unless faced with really threatening consequences. 3. Meeting Jaggu : The actions that convince Jaggu of PK's authenticity and PK of Jaggu's, are not rational actions which one undertakes to achieve one's goals in life. Instead, these actions have altruistic motivations, where each person parts with important values to help a stranger. True, Jaggu had a personal incentive to help PK. But PK was not aware of this incentive, and starts trusting Jaggu because he thinks she helped him selflessly. 4. Convincing Godman and his followers : This part of plot and the next(5.) are by far the most rational components in the story. Here PK applies clever reasoning to demonstrate that religions are inconsistent, and therefore wrong. Here too however, basic existence of God is not questioned, even though it is not perceivable. Instead the irrationality of religion is demonstrated by showing that it is possible for person of one religion to dress as another. And that the rituals of all religions are not same, often contradictory. 5. True motives of Godman : If we look at methodology of PK in this phase, it can also be considered as a rational phase. Here he makes various observations, and mentally integrates various events to form concepts and judgments forming the basis of religion. Judgments like "most people are motivated by fear to pursue religion". Or a judgment involving Godman, concluding that "he is not mistaken but lying". However, as we see in the next phase, he makes no such rational analysis for positive concepts like love. 6. PK Falling in Love : True love, like any natural phenomenon is also causal. It ought to be the objectification of one's deepest values. Mohit Suri movies like Aashiqui 2 (and Ek Villian to lesser extent), are best demonstration of this ordinal nature of love. Ordinal here referring to the measurement of emotion of love. That is, it can be measured by comparing the importance of object of affection to one's most fundamental values. Values like the understanding of music in Aashiqui 2. But in movie PK, love is automatic. And while it may have had some causes here, these are certainly not explored. Except the fact that PK looks at Jaggu dancing and falls for her. 7. Climax and sub-plot : Climax to some extent is good, since it connects plot, the sub-plot, states the theme, and resolves the conflict that created plot. Larger than life setting of a television studio also makes a good show. The let down here apart from the speech corresponding to theme, is the discovery of the cause that moved the sub-plot. In a good literary work, its the choices of main characters that ultimately cause major plot twists, and therefore play an important role in demonstrating the power of value judgments. Instead here, a chance event that has remote possibility in normal circumstances, causes the main twist. CONCLUSION In complete review, I would have also focused on aspects like screenplay, cinematography, costumes, music, sets, sensibilities etc. In short, director's sensibilities amount to making a hero out of a bully, or resentment towards even genuine rules like wearing clothes and applying tone and gestures to words for denoting context. Most other aspects are quite good and play an important role in highlighting critical elements in theme and plot. Overall however, these aspects of movie are not as important as theme and plot. Not if you are a non-technical viewer who needs to derive spiritual fuel from an art work. In complete scheme of things, the movie should be given one cheer for standing up to something as fundamentally mistaken as religion, and for depicting technical aspects of cinema well. But art and cinema need to do much more for promoting reason in order to resurrect man. Specifically, more emphasis should be given to plots that are driven by value judgments. Of course, I would like rational values to move the story, but even irrational values as movers in movies like Rise of Planet of Apes, or partly rational values for movies mentioned will do.
  14. Kira Peikoff's "No Time To Die"

    INTRODUCTION At a time when Freedom is the most discussed subject, and yet least understood. At a time when the need for medical advances is most urgent, and yet the field is most strangled. And at a time when relationships are most fragile, there could not have been a better read. What follows is my review of No Time To Die by Kira Peikoff. THEME What Freedom is, and what it is not? What are the consequences of having and not having freedom? And what are the prerequisites of Freedom? PLOT-THEME Coercive regulations, too much government interference, sensation and propaganda driven mainstream media. How these cultural products slow down and stop progress in medical science? Alternatively, system where researchers, patients, venture capitalists, and their facilitators voluntarily trade. How such system leads to astonishing progress in medical science? Further, it also shows how reason can be used to overcome misunderstanding, or reach certainty in human relationships if people have an overall positive view of themselves and of other men. CHARACTERS 1. Galileo : Very efficient in managing network that works in medical innovations. Network's recruitments and secrecy are pursued very skilfully by him. He is also very understanding and caring of people he values, and acts to help them whenever he thinks its required. He has a troubled past where he has lost his loved ones, and as a result he is conflicted and cautious in his present relationships, especially Romantic. Purposeful action to achieve his long term, medium term, and short term goals being the defining feature of his character. 2. Natalie : Hard working, exceptionally intelligent, and very dedicated to her professional course. Very caring of her son, and of people like Zoe, Galileo, Helen, and others she gets to know and appreciate. Empathy also reflected towards small associations like her professional colleagues, and people she occasionally interacts with. Defining characteristic being her courage to take risks after thinking about pros and cons in relation to her values, that is her work and her son. 3. Les Mahler : A bureaucrat convinced that genetic science will destroy the world, if not controlled by government. This idea leading him to vigorously pursue the network and its leader, and also contemplate killing an innocent child because of her genes. Willing to bend rules when official processes don't yield desired results, and use coercive threats and occasional bribery to get the work done by illegal means. As we later come to see, he has destructive agenda of his own, and will go to any lengths to destroy the things he does not like. At a deeper level we see that he is unwilling to take responsibility for his failures, and rationalizes his failed actions to blame someone else, mostly research scientists. And at deepest level, the hatred and paranoia comes from his inability to get over the bad childhood memories, bullies in particular. Defining feature being his agenda to control scientific research in general, and Galileo's network in particular. Rationalization coming from the belief that he is saving earth's resources from overpopulation, virus called man etc. 4. Zoe : A girl affected by extremely rare genetic mutation, that makes her the target of medical science and political community. A passionate valuer when it comes to caring for her maternal grandfather, or for her own condition. Willing to go to any extent to fix the wrongs they are in. Develops inferiority complex because of the condition her body is in. Is naive in her initial understanding, but willing to learn about her condition in depth, about adolescence in general, genetic science, and the politics and ethics surrounding it. Defining characteristic being her free spirit. Upholding independence of thought, values, and acting even in the face of extreme peril. 5. Granpa – Zoe's maternal grandfather : A very caring person when it comes to handling Zoe emotionally, her actions, and her relationship with parents. Has had very successful careers as athlete and physician. Has read good collection, and applies those learnings along with his experience to help Zoe. His understanding of Zoe's condition, and his willingness to help her in pursuit he thinks is right, being the defining characteristic. 6. Stephen Kincaid – Zoe's father : He comes out as very dominating figure, pushing his own flawed agenda onto his daughter. When things go out of control, and he later loses her, looks like he has realized his mistake. 7. Zoe's mother : She comes out as very noncommittal person, who does not seem to have any deep values. So ends up supporting whatever her husband says, and reacts with shallow emotions when things go wrong. 8. Theo : Son of Natalie whom she loves immensely. Very mature in handling relationships, whether its false news report related to Natalie, or handling tough situations while escaping to Network, or handling Zoe when she develops inner conflict within the campus. He has passion for computers and technology in general. His deep understanding of relationships, and about growing up in general being the defining characteristic. 9. Julian : Physically weak but quite clever. Tactfully handles when questioned by Les and others about his links to the network. PLOT The tight plot full of twists and turns is the strongest aspect of the novel. Galileo and Zoe most times, and Natalie and Les sometimes being the movers of the plot. While the actions of Galileo move in the background, the actions of Zoe and Natalie are most visible in the initial part of the novel. Zoe motivated by the desire to discover and improve her condition, and to contribute to research that can help medical condition of Granpa. Natalie's passion to develop anti-aging techniques so that she can push ahead medical science, and also raising her son well, being the motivations that drive her and the plot. Like John Galt in Atlas Shrugged, Galileo comes into forefront of plot movement as the story progresses. Whether its deft handling of escape to the Network compound, arranging resources for driving research in the network, collecting and applying timely intelligence to secure secrecy of Network, or clarifying Zoe's insecurities. In each of the key moments he emerges as the man of clear thinking, quick and accurate decision making. A man of action, actions that are thought through. While Galileo most times is the prime mover, villain Les Mahler is also the mover. Whether its probing the moles of the Network in Columbia University, trying to track Natalie and kids when they escape, or later investigating the location of Network compound. Being a villain while he is dominantly irrational and brutal, there are elements of cleverness that drive the plot, particularly his blackmailing and occasional incentivizing of a hacker on parole. STYLE Content of the novel primarily belongs to Biotechnology in particular, and medicine in general. Explaining the technical terms and very specific processes of these lesser known fields I think is a major challenge. Use of metaphors like searching lighted weed in an ocean for finding master gene, or chromosomes and genes being like chapters and words of a book are the few examples where complex concepts are explained. Often Zoe is used as an archetype for normal reader being explained to. Also, from time to time Kira makes it a point to reveal motivations of characters for their actions. Whether its value driven actions of positive characters, or rationalization and fear driven actions of negative ones. Occasional impulses of positive characters like Zoe escaping the compound also have valid reasoning. So simplifying technical complexities, and providing motivations along with specific actions of characters forms the core of style elements in novel. SENSIBILITIES So far I have reviewed the major elements of this fiction work – theme, plot theme, characters, plot, and style. Going a step further I would now discuss the writer's “Sense of Life”. That is, what aspects of life and man she considers important. Clearly there is lots of optimism for what science and technology can do, and validly so. Then there is appreciation of how reason can lead to understanding in human relationships, provided there is benevolent view of man, life and existence on both sides. To elaborate on the finer aspects I would compare sensibilities to those in We The Living by Ayn Rand. Compared to We The Living, the hero is clearly much more stronger, almost approaching John Galt of Atlas Shrugged in his thoughts and actions. There is however a minor let down when it comes to heroine's view of Hero. Overall no doubt she revers his intelligence, his actions, and his style derived from these. But that makes conversation in “Chapter 21” even more painful. After cops leave Julian's house leave, Theo makes a really cheap joke. Sometime later Natalie lightly accuses Galileo of not laughing. Given the situation, I think the joke and remark could have been avoided. But at a deeper level, it seems that Kira Peikoff does not yet has a fully integrated view of Hero, especially the single minded persistence needed in the face of mortal danger. So in that sense, attitude of character Kira from We The Living towards Leo was much more reverential and consistent. From the theme perspective, the level of No Time to Die is political like We The Living. Impact of “Totalitarian State” on lives being the theme of latter. In No Time to Die however, the foundations of freedom in reason are explored to a much greater extent. Like the explanation of Galileo as to how Humans can adapt to progress like anti-aging technologies. In We The Living, while ethics of self-interest finds form in various actions, given the dark setup, scope for what reason means is limited. Further, the altruistic and irrational foundations of Les Mahler's coercive and violent actions is also explored in sufficient detail. Another aspect I would like to explore is the view of evil, especially the fuel that drives it. In We The Living, Pavel Syerov is one of the main beneficiary of the Communist revolution. However, he didn't even participate in the main event that toppled the previous political establishment. It was misguided but honest people like Andrei who were the prime movers in that regard. Bottom line being, evil qua evil is impotent and requires “sanction of the good” consistently, to sustain itself. But actions of Les Mahler are fairly independent of good characters. That is, most of the times he can drive his tasks without any support from good characters. He does depend on Cylon the hacker a lot, but no way can he be classified as good. And Galileo, to move on is dependent on rational support of rational elements from the government that here is essentially evil. While John Galt also depended on actions of evil government bureaucrats and politicians in Atlas Shrugged. But he, Frisco, and others depended on irrational elements in the essentially corrupt system. Though overall Les Mahler is a lot inferior to Galileo, but in complete scheme of things, he is not irrational enough. Finally, I would comment on the view of invention in this novel. Natalie clearly spends most of the time, efforts, and risks in building anti-aging technology. But the primary breakthrough actually comes from Nina. So in this sense Nina is actually the main inventor, and Natalie is the one who just takes the invention to its logical conclusion, and gets the final credit. But any invention, and its basic trajectory ought to be the product of single mind. Enright House is Roark's, or Rearden metal belongs to Hank Rearden, no matter how many people are employed to build the final product. Even in real life, Macintosh, iPod, or iPhone are Steve Job's babies, given the history and trajectory of Apple. Seed idea of invention, as slightly hinted in the novel text, cannot and ought not be collective. The idea has to be an individual effort, even though final product requires multiple people. Better approach should have been similar to the way Mark Zuckerberg discovers “Relationship Status” in the movie The Social Network. By getting Eureka moment when one of his friends is discussing relationships of their classmates. To end this section on a personal footnote, one of my favorite line is the one which highlights the contemporary culture that blanks out genuinely heroic(read rational) actions. The line that emphasizes the point comes in Part 1, when twisted news of Natalie trying to exploit Zoe breaks out. It says that in perfectly sensational news stories, there are only victims and villains. CONCLUSION All in all, the plot of No Time to Die is rapidly moving, value driven, has suspense, and is therefore engaging. Characters are motivated, and therefore memorable. Style ties abstractions with corresponding concretes, and is therefore relatable. The theme and plot theme are contemporary and yet universal. This makes it an extremely relevant novel for a reader interested in adding spiritual fuel to his life. Looking forward to next novel in the series for more such fuel.
  15. Onkar Ghate on Atlas Shrugged

    The link is no longer working. On further googling also I could not find the videos. I had listened to them 5-6 years back, and they are excellent. In particular, I am interested in first chapter, where it is demonstrated how the content of the chapter captures the essence of whole novel.
  16. Here is final update from the study-group The final week was for "Review and Summary" So first I posted the the scope of "Review and Summary", and then my own "Review and Summary". ------------------------------------------------------------------ Basic structure of "Summary and Review" Now that we have finished the main study text, we enter the concluding week. Please try to post pending posts this week. Purpose of this concluding week is to summarize what we have studied, what we have learnt, how we have learnt it, and highlight the important aspects of the study-text. More importantly, we mention how we will follow up this study for even deeper understanding. --------------------- SUMMARY AND REVIEW To summarize the path of (formal)study, I first studied about concepts and concept formation. Existent, identity, and unit stages from ITOE gave me better understanding about things I had already learned, and how to better organize my knowledge for improved understanding and living. That is through reduction, and keeping snapshots of units and characteristics in various states of unit stage, identity stage or even existent stage of some concepts. Studying causality helped me to better organize knowledge related to various events I observe and those I know of. Examples from physics(and from chemistry, biology, history, I recollected) gave me even better grasp of causality. Co-relating my day to day thinking to that of Galileo and Newton I think will make me a better person by enabling me to solve problems better through systematic understanding. We apply principles often(and laws get applied on us), but don't validate them as much as required. Now I think I will validate my goals, motivations, principles, and events impacting me more often. And fine-tune the hierarchy of my values, based on proper analysis of emotional triggers I get. Professionally, I will continue to effectively question key policy reversals in my company happening due to cultural bankruptcy of humanities. Specifically, removal of ratings system in my case. But primarily prioritize my work related tasks better, and organically improve my knowledge of software systems and their genesis. I can already see much better problem solving, partly due to experience, but also by better understanding similarities and differences between various systems and their versions. While most of us know that we form concepts and generalizations from percepts(thanks to Aristotle), now many of the missing links have been filled. To further solidify my understanding, I plan to again study "the full book", "Abstraction from Abstractions", "Cognitive Role of concepts", and "Concepts of consciousness" from ITOE. Reading How we know excerpts itself improved quality of my posts. I will definitely follow it up with complete study. But more importantly I plan to cash in on the epistemological assets I have built through this study group. So expect my next study-group to be on Ethics, probably Virtue of Integrity. My understanding of first level concepts and generalizations has been greatly enhanced though. I can now think of any first level concept like table, chair, red, rolling, etc. to have 6 perspectives. The existent, its percept(s), its characteristics, essence in concept, its CCD, and the category like enity, attribute, action it belongs to. I intend to build on this understanding and have better understanding of complex categories involving concepts-of-consciousness, abstractions-of-abstractions(-of-abstractions...), axiomatic concepts etc. However I am still thinking of one aspect. If induction is moving from particulars to universals, why are we spending so much time in moving from universals to particulars using reduction. I think reason can be that moving from universals to particulars for known concepts like tables, furnitures, gravity, etc. can provide us more (explicit) CCDs and better understanding of categories of concepts. Armed with this better understanding, we can then better classify new existents we encounter. And thus enabling us to form correct, and more abstract concepts and generalizations. Representation through symbols, whether its concepts, mathematics, physics or deduction, it improves the understanding of finer aspects. Introducing symbolism in concept formation and induction(not to that extent in Induction though) I think is a major take away here. Whether its through sets in various stages of concept formation and induction, or setting and organization(prioritization through fundamentality) of characteristics, essence or CCD. So to conclude, I will study epistemology privately in short term. Publicly I will try to connect epistemology studied so far to ethics, politics, economics and law. So Tara Smith's book on ethics, and Yaron Brook and Don Watkin's "Free Market Revolution" are what I am eyeing. Apart from these I will also rescan archives of SGO, and co-relate it to what I studied here. Thanks to all for participating. Apart from academic, enhancing my project management and marketing skills was a major takeaway. This "study group" will always remain special. In totality it took minor part of my year, but gave me unprecedented joy in return....! Amen, not in the name of supernatural, but "In the name of Best Within Us"(David Harriman, Leonard Peikoff, ARI, Brad, all the particpants including myself, and the fountainhead whose soul shall always reside in these study-groups and inside many of us - Burgess Laughlin!!).
  17. About the Platform: "Study Group For Objectivists"(SGO)[1] is for serious students of Objectivism from various age groups and professions. The study is specialized and involves particular texts(not necessarily Objectivists), mainly in the fields of philosophy and history. The student, after studying the text can give summary, outline, or detailed analysis and synthesis of select sections(referred to as chewing by Ayn Rand). Rigrous etiquettes, timebound schedules for various sections and advance notice enables better discipline, and therefore productive study. Based on personal experience, I can vouch for the same. Purpose of Platform: These study groups intend to achieve for Objectivism, what various intellectuals and philosophers did post Acquinas in the West. Explore various writings to understand rational philosophy across length, breadth and depth of intellectual spectrum, and unleash the new era of Renaissance and Enlightenment. Spiritual awakening that begins with the minds of participants, fulfilling their lives with knowledge, understanding, wisdom and therefore joy. Unleashing "The New Intellectuals" into current ruins of philosophy, to redeem its lost foundations and for cultivating the seeds for future movements. To put it succintly, this is the stock exchange for trading rational ideas, one text at a time. Current Study Group: Coming to the current study group, it is on the subject of philosophy, epistemology to be more specific. As Ayn Rand puts it, "A political battle is merely a skirmish[small battle] fought with muskets; a philosophical battle is a nuclear war." As is clearly communicated in many Objectivist forums, Epistemology is the foundation of more visible philosophical aspects like Politics, Ethics and Aesthetics. And ultimately foundation of every subject ranging from physical sciences to economics to history to psychology to even technology(like logic in computers). Ayn Rand's Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology(ITOE), her other works to lesser extent, and portions of Dr. Peikoff's Objectivism : Philosophy of Ayn Rand(OPAR) focus on Epistemology. You can also add Dr. Peikoff's lectures on "Art of Thinking", "Objectivism through Induction", and recent How we Know by Dr. Harry Binswanger. Yet this important branch has largely been understudied in this potentially world changing movement. This studygroup intends to take step in that direction. Attempting to redirect focus to its roots, Epistemology that is. We will study foundation of aspect that has been least touched in Objectivist epistemology, inductive method of thinking. Very briefly, inductive method involves integrating universal generalizations like principles and laws from a set of particulars or lower level generalizations. The text will introduce and explore important terms of inductive method, and what these refer to. Primary referents of the terms being methods of discoveries of Galileo, Newton, and Benjamin Franklin's electricity. We will study "The Logical Leap - Induction in Physics" by David Harriman. Chapter studied will be the first chapter "The Foundation". Namely the following sections 1 09/08/2014 - 09/14/2014 The Nature of Concepts 2 09/15/2014 - 09/21/2014 Generalizations as Hierarchial 3 09/22/2014 - 09/28/2014 Perceiving First-Level Causal Connections 4 09/29/2014 - 09/05/2014 Conceptualizing First-Level Causal Connections 5 10/06/2014 - 10/12/2014 The structure of inductive reasoning 6 10/13/2014 - 10/19/2014 Review and summary Apart from this central material, preperatory material can be 1. Chapter 1. "Cognition and Measurement" from "Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology". 2. Chapter 2. "Concept-Formation" from "Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology". 3. Section on "Causality as Corollary of Identity" from chapter 1 "Reality" of OPAR. 4. Introduction and Preface of "The Logical Leap - Induction in Physics". Conclusion: So primarily for fulfilling your appetite of rational method, and changing course of civilization in the process, I urge you to consider participation here. "Study Group for Objectivists" -" Note: After you register, activation can take few days. Please go through the etiquettes and archives once registered. [1] Study group for Objectivists(SGO) - [2] Further details on the importance of SGO -
  18. Other recent posts that I think are important are as follows -------------------------------- On certainty of "first level generalizations" and referrants of "first level concepts" Certainty of "first level generalizations" I have been using obvious to describe the status of "first level generalizations." Given its greater emphasis on completeness in understanding, I think certainty is a better term. Here I will clarify the context of certain. I think certain is a genus that subsumes "self-evident", "obvious" and "proven" as units. Self-evident being perceptual. Obvious meaning easily reduced, like single percept as in "two tables with chair as a foil" for concept table. Or reduced to continuous percepts as in "pushing rolls the ball". Proven will also be ultimately reduced to perceptual, but the percepts will be distributed. Few of the many percepts of G=(m1)(m2)/(d^2) being motion of objects falling on earth, rotation of planets and moon, and experiments involving circular motion. Here is relevant snippet from the excerpt of "How We Know" ------------------------------ p21-23 “Self-evident” is not a synonym for “obvious.” To one who has learned arithmetic, it is obvious that two plus two is four, but that truth is not selfevident; it is inferred by a process of comparison and counting. But that the page you are reading exists is not an inference: it is self-evident. The data of sensory perception are self-evident, but the conceptual interpretation of that data, and inferences drawn from it, are not self-evident. They must be validated by reducing them back to the self-evident. ------------------------------- Referrants of "first level concepts" Here is the relevant snippet from "How We Know" ------------------------------- p151-153 To form a concept of an entity, we contrast two or more instances of the entity with a foil — e.g., some tables vs. a chair. Likewise, to form the concept of an attribute, we contrast this and that instance of the attribute with a foil — e.g., two or more shades of blue vs. a shade of green. To form the concept of an action, we contrast this and that instance of an action with a foil — e.g., two or more instances of a thing moving vs. being at rest. And, as with entity-concepts, concepts of characteristics are formed by measurement-omission, on the “some but any” principle, and are integrated into a new mental unit by means of a word. We form higher-level concepts of characteristics just as we do in the case of higher-level concepts of entities. “Blue” is first-level, within attributeconcepts; “color” is a widening; “indigo,” and “ultramarine” are narrowings. Narrowing by cross-classification is exemplified by “pastel blue,” if we allow two words to count as a concept, since “pastel blue” stands for those shades. 74 A technical issue arises regarding “levels,” because the term has two senses. In one sense, only concepts of entities are “first-level”: only entity-concepts presuppose no prior conceptualization. Since concepts of characteristics presuppose concepts of entities, concepts like “blue” are not “first-level” in this sense. But, in another sense, “first-level” denotes concepts that do not integrate or subdivide any prior concepts, and in this second sense “blue” is first-level: it conceptualizes what is directly perceivable. Accordingly, these concepts need no validation or checking (there’s no such thing as getting “blue” wrong). Concepts like “blue,” “round,” and “moves” are part of the incontestable base to which more abstract concepts must be reduced and against which their validity is to be judged. As such, they could be called “reductively first-level.” -------------------------------- Personally I picture levels in 2 dimensions. X axis being entities at origin, attributes at 1, actions at 2 etc. Higher levels of entities like Furniture, Household items, man-made objects etc. being at (0,1),(0,2),(0,3) etc. if table is at origin. Dining Table, desk etc. being at (0,-1). Rounded being at (1,0), as attribute for entity ball in origin. Rolling being at (2,0) as action for ball etc. Motion being at (2,1) as higher level concept subsuming rolling. --------------------------------- --------------------------------- Foils while forming "first level generalization We have foil chair while forming "first level concept" table. Like concept is a universal, so is generalization. Therefore forming "first level generalization" also requires foils. Further if we retrospect on formation of our own "first level generalizations", we will see that without foil, forming first level generalization would not be possible. If for e.g. bulb always remained lighted because of some hidden connection, child will never be able to form the first level generalization "switching lights the bulb" by just playing with the switch. He has to see first hand that with switch down bulb is on, and when switch is up bulb is off. Off state of bulb I will call as metaphysical foil. I think there needs to be an epistemological foil also, which in this case will be "wish that bulb is not switched on when I push the switch down". Let me elaborate how. Before child actually pushes the switch down, he will have to make the decision at some level, mostly really low conscious level that is bordering sub-conscious level. So he makes the decision to push the switch down, actually pushes the switch down, and then the bulb glows. At this point he might start thinking that it was his wish and not push down of switch that made the bulb glow. But at later point lets say he wishes the bulb to glow without pushing down the switch, and the bulb does not glow. At this point he will be certain that "pushing down switches the bulb". The epistemological foil I gathered from examples Dr. Peikoff gave in OPAR section we studied. "Wishing that marbles dont rattle", or "pillow rattles", or "balloon goes down on release" and "stone goes up" etc. ---------------------------------
  19. Questions from this week and sample answer Here are questions from the section on "The structure of inductive reasoning" Q1. How is this section similar and different from previous sections? Q2. What is reasoning? What might be the need to introduce this concept at this point? Q3. What role logic plays for reasoning in general, and deductive reasoning in particular? Q4. How is inductive reasoning different from deductive reasoning, when it comes to integrating the premises to form conclusion? Q5. What is the problem of induction? Q6. How does study for reaching "first level generalizations" contribute to the solution of "problem of induction"? Q7. What leads can we get to the solution by studying Benjamin Franklin's kite experiment and related facts? Q8. Summarize similarity and difference between first level and higher level generalizations? Q9. Elaborate on the conceptual framework that Franklin had to integrate when he did kite experiment? Q10. What is the role of integration and logic in developing inductive generalizations? Q11. What is the difference between premises of induction and deduction? Q12. Why problem of induction has been elusive for so long? ---------------------------------------- Sample answer is as follows Q7. What leads can we get to the solution by studying Benjamin Franklin's kite experiment and related facts? Ans: MY ANALYSIS This part shows the process of induction for reaching higher generalizations. So far we have studied induction in detail only for first level generalizations. FROM TLL Let us examine a case typical of scientific induction, in which we do not directly perceive causal connections, and in which we are not restricted to a handful of first-level concepts. The example I have chosen is Benjamin Franklin's famous kite experiment. It will serve to illustrate the pattern that we will see repeatedly in the next four chapters. Franklin set out to prove that lightening is essentially electricity. Thunder clouds, he hypothesized, are electrically charged, and lightening is merely an electric discharge, when this charge runs off. Scientists do not always have their explanation of events worked out as a hypothesis in advance of their experiments, but sometimes they do, and Franklin did in this case. He setup his apparatus accordingly. ......If Franklin was right, the electrically charged thunder clouds should cause the key to become charged, and this charge will flow into and accumulate in the Leyden Jar. Of course, everything Franklin predicted turned out as he expected, and he concluded - from his experience of one thunderstorm - with a sweeping and necessary generalization describing the nature of lightening as such, here, everywhere and always. Why did this prove his generalization? First, what did Franklin actually see during this experiment? What concretes did he observe that could also have been observed by a child or a savage? Among other things, he saw sparks flying from the key to the wire in the Leyden jar. He saw pieces of the wet kite string become rigid and repel each other. And he found that if he held the jar with one hand while touching his finger to wire entering it, he felt an unpleasant shock. These concrete observations are essential[but not sufficient] to the experiment; you could learn nothing from it[experiment] without them[concrete observations]. Yet these observations would be meaningless to an ignorant person..... Besides his percepts, Franklin needed a series of sophisticated concepts; otherwise, he could neither have designed his experiment, nor interpreted its results....concepts as "electricity", "discharge", "conductor", "Leyden Jar"..... These concepts were made possible by and represent a wealth of earlier knowledge([some of]which was also discovered by means of experiments). Without this conceptual framework, Franklin could only have stared uncomprehendingly at sparks and shocks. Given such a framework, however, he can at once identify what he is seeing : The kite apparatus is a long conductor, and thus the electrically charged thundercloud causes the key to become charged, and then the key discharges into the insulated Leyden jar. .....The conceptual framework enables him to identify with the concrete measurements omitted, the essential causal chain; nothing else explains the observations. If one grasps the observations in this case, and learns that the conceptual framework is valid, then the generalization follows necessarily. MY FURTHER ANALYSIS The most important inference for induction in this section is regarding higher level generalizations. First level generalizations require relevant first level concepts, and perception of causation in phenomena the generalization will refer to. Similarly higher level generalization requires higher level concepts, and like first level generalization referring to a perception depicting causal connection. That is, higher level generalization also refers to percept containing causal connection. Further, we also see, as in case of Galileo, the concepts, more specifically their characteristics contribute to the design of experiment. Further, for humanities subjects like history, while having experiment is not possible, as we saw in DIM, these characteristics can help select relevant subjects, existents, and enable their interpretations from various eras and fields(What is being integrated? How it is being integrated?) Coming to Franklin's experiment, here too we follow similar path as in "First Level Generalization". While ultimately it established[connected units of] concept electricity, explicit scope of this experiment was to establish the generalization "clouds are electrically charged". The behavior of lightening, or characteristics of concept lightening led to the formulation of hypothesis. More specifically, its heat, light and equivalent shock characteristics are similar to sparks that came around charged particles[This part is not written in the text, but we can infer this from later text]. And the experiment established other aspects of clouds, like it is charged since the string of kite got charged. This being established by spark near Leyden jar and repulsion among the strings. These are the steps that I think would be involved here(all are not necessarily chronological, but some can be) :- 1. Forming concepts of entities whose units exhibit electrical characteristics. Concepts like amber rod, spears etc. in this case. 2. Forming concepts, probably as phrases initially, for characteristics that subsume properties of charged materials or conductors. Like attracting-repulsing, shock producing, spark producing, heat producing etc. Or transferring shock, spark etc.(I also assume concepts of actions like attraction, shock etc. are formed before). 3. Forming causal connection between the characteristics in (2.), and entities in (1.), leading to higher level concepts like charge and charged materials. 4. Subsuming new units to materials exhibiting characteristics identified in (2.), like key, wet string, and Leyden jar. 5. Observing lightening and forming the concept that subsumes its various instances. 6. Adding characteristics to lightening using "first level generalizations". Like it produces shock, produces "heat and light" etc. These first level generalizations have concepts of attributes derived from (2.). 7. Formulating experiment that can be used to connect entities involved in lightening and entities involved in charge. The formulation is because of hypothesis that lightening and "sparks of charged materials" are same, and hypothesis is reached because of few similarities like shock producing, heat producing, and light producing between the two. 8. Doing and noting various observations in experimental setup. 9. Comparing new observations in the setup to observations of relevant phenomenon in materials identified in (1.). 10. If the actions are same, reaching the conclusion that concepts of attributes contributing to the actions are also same. And therefore concluding that entities involved in lightening have some attributes, that are same as that of charged materials. That is clouds are also electrically charged. 11. Forming / Expanding concept electricity based on the generalizations derived from observations. Generalizations involving flow of charges, sparks being produced, shock, heat and light. Some concepts in the above experiment will come under pre-science knowledge. Like lightening, clouds, kite, spark, heat, light, etc. Others like charge, Leyden jar, conductor will be discovered by science. Even if one of the concept, its characteristics, or the observation is invalid or false, the generalization will collapse. But we know from physics, each of this is true or valid. Valid meaning consistent, and true meaning as is perceived. -----------------------------------
  20. Questions from this week and sample answer Here are questions from the section on "Conceptualizing first level causal connections" Q1. Why is conceptualizing first level causal connections necessary? Q2. Recapitulate stages in evolution and expansion of "concepts in general", which will help us in understanding inducing of first level generalizations? Q3. Why should the statement referring to first level generalizations be in terms of first level concepts? Q4. How are first level generalizations universal in nature? Q5. Why is it not possible for animals to form generalizations, even though they also experience causation directly? Q6. How can we say that "method of induction" is a special case for "method of concept formation"? That is how measurement-omission is taking place in induction? Q7. Summarize the role of "first level generalization" and "perceiving of causal connections" in induction? ------------------------------------------------ Q3. Why should the statement referring to first level generalizations be in terms of first level concepts? Ans: FROM TLL Notice that when our first-level inducer identifies a perceived causal connection in words, he does not do it as a description of unique concretes, even though that is all he perceives; he at once states a universal truth. His first remark is not "I see shimmering, yellow orange smoke-emitting flames, about one foot high, turning that huge front page of newspaper with its big headlines into a small pile of blackened ashes." The child at this early stage does not have the conceptual apparatus necessary to distinguish one instance of fire-burning-paper from another by means of words; first he must grasp that what he sees is an instance of "fire", "burning", "paper", i.e., of his earlier concepts. Only much later, when the vocabulary identifying specific measurements of these existents has been developed, can he use words in sophisticated combinations to describe the action of a unique fire. Logically, the generalization must come first; it is the direct product of applying one's conceptual apparatus to the perceived connection. MY FURTHER ANALYSIS The section takes the order in which we know one step further. So far we have studied first level concepts, then first level generalizations. Further, we have second level concepts like "furniture" which are broader in scope, or "dining table" which are narrower in scope. And when such vocabulary is sufficiently formed, which will also include higher level concepts of actions like shimmering, or high level concepts like newspaper; will the description of phenomenon in more specific terms be possible. So first level concepts and generalizations are known much before generalizations which will describe the perceptual connections in specific terms. FROM TLL Similarly, a toddler sees a particular ball, but his identification of it is simply "ball". At this early age, the child does not and cannot know any other integrations or narrower subtypes or cross-classifications of "ball"; he cannot identify a ball as "a human artifact", or as "a yellow tennis ball", or as "a product of capitalist profit seeking". To him, at the start of the conceptual process, the verbalized object is "ball", pure and simple. The same applies to the child's experience of himself as the particular pushing agent. His identification must be of "pushing" as such, not of "voluntary human action", nor of "exerting force", nor of "his own individual act of pushing" - since he does not yet know any such relatively more abstract terms; the concept simply denotes any and every place of his observation, this is par excellence an irrelevancy to the child(and to anyone). Inherent in forming and applying a concept is the understanding that what counts cognitively is only the identity of referents. The mere passage of time or the change of location, assuming everything else remains the same, makes no difference to one's conclusions, because the concept of an existent subsumes all instances everywhere, past, present, and future. MY FURTHER ANALYSIS So summarizing the order of learning 1. Percepts 2. Forming first level concepts of entities from perceptual frame. 3. Forming first level concepts of attributes from percepts. 4. Forming first level concepts of actions from percepts. 5. Perception of phenomena. 6. Identifying first level concepts in the phenomena. Like Fire, paper, burns, hot, bright. 7. Forming first level generalization by connecting phenomena observed and first level concepts identified in (6.). "Fire is bright", "Fire is hot" being few examples of simpler first level generalizations. And "Fire burns paper", "fire cooks food" etc. being example of complex first level generalizations. 8. Adding simpler characteristics of attributes to concept of entity from generalizations. Like hot, bright, etc. for fire. 9. Adding some less simple characteristics to corresponding first level concepts based on first level generalizations formed from them. Like characteristic "burns paper" for fire, or "burned by fire" for paper, or "acts on paper", "caused by fire" for burns. 10. Forming second level concepts of entity, attributes, and actions from first level concepts and their characteristics identified in 8-9 using generalizations. Like lighted that subsumes fire, bulb, tube, computer, mobile, lamp etc.Or "glowing" that subsumes "burning", "bright", "shining" etc. Or "changing" that subsumes "burning of paper", "breaking of glass", "moving of chair" etc. 11. Forming second level generalizations from second level concepts and from new percepts, or instead of new percepts from recollection of percepts that were used for forming first level generalizations. Like "Night is lighted", "Laboratory is glowing" or "There are many changes in one day". Note: While the text mentions that "Pushing rolls the ball" as first level generalization. I think prior to that generalization "Ball rolls" should be formed. But I think we can classify both of these as first level generalizations, since they are formed from first level concepts.
  21. Today I shared answers to Questions from section on "Perceiving first level causal connections". Sharing sample answer for wider audience. Q9. What is the significance of perceiving causal connections? Ans: From TLL The primary method of grasping causal connection, therefore, is to perceive it. Building on this foundation, scientists develop more sophisticated, experimental methods of discovering causality, in higher level cases where perception of the cause is not possible. The use of such methods requires an analysis of variables going far beyond the first level cognition. In regrard to first level generalizations, however, direct perception of cause and effect is essential - and sufficient. MY FURTHER ANALYSIS Continuing my disagreement further on first level generalizations being self-evident, though I accept these are "validated"[reduced after being formed] by direct perception of cause and effect. I see error in statement that "first level generalizations are self-evident" as extension of intrinsic theory of concepts, Aristotelian variant. There is nothing innately written on the percepts that says "pushing rolls the ball". We first have to isolate frames of percepts from the observed sequence of ball rolling after being pushed. In first percept its not rolling and it is not pushed, in second percept it is pushed and in third percept its rolling. We then subsume second percept under concept push formed before, and third percept under concept rolling formed before. The ball in all these percepts is subsumed under concept ball. And when we look into three percepts, ball is the common entity combining these percepts. So forming first level generalizations requires isolation of perceptual frames, identifying concepts of existents in these perceptual frames, integrating the concepts using common entity across the perceptual frames.[so "Subsuming as unit percept of static ball just prior to being pushed" + "Subsuming as unit percept of pushing" + "Subsuming as unit percept of rolling ball" = "First level generalization" "Pushing rolls the ball"]. [in above percepts, first percept of "ball not rolling when not pushed" immediately precedes other two percepts often but not always. But second and third percepts have to occur chronologically always, such that percept of pushing[cause] has to be seen immediately before percept of rolling[effect] for the first level generalization "pushing rolls the ball" to form. The first percept can act as foil, like perception of chair acts for concept table. Further, like initial first level concepts, I think initial first level generalizations can also be formed pictorically]. So when scientist tries to design experiments, he is creating circumstances that will help him grasp "higher level generalizations" as if they are "first level generalizations". Like balls falling same distance from table after rolling on the table through inclined planes of same inclinations. Here while the perception is not very different from what first level generalization "pushing or inclination rolls the ball" can subsume as unit. The inference drawn is a much higher level generalization "Horizontal motion is unaccelerated", because the percepts are subsumed by higher concepts like "horizontal", "motion" and "unaccelerated" by the scientist. So perceiving of perceptual connections, where effect happens immediately after cause, can also help in validating hypothesis formed elsewhere(pendulum experiments in this case).
  22. Today I posted questions from the section on "Perceiving first level causal connections" Here is the list Q1. What is the purpose of this section? Q2. What are generalizations(whether first level or higher level ones)? Q3. What is the purpose of generalizations? Q4. What aspect of causal connection we will learn in this section, and what later? Q5. What is a precondition for grasping first level generalization? Q6. What is the precondition to understanding law of causality? Q7. What kind of perceptual causal connections are understood in the beginning? Q8. What kind of causal connections are discovered later? Q9. What is the significance of perceiving perceptual connections? Q10. How will you differentiate observation of causal connection from the regularity of observation? Q11. Based on evolution of man's thought process, demonstrate how significant is the difference between causes having conscious being like self, and impersonal causes as in fluttering of leaves? Q12. Impersonal metaphysics states that law of identity and not consciousness is the cause of natural phenomenon(and indirectly also man-made phenomena, since volition is also the part of identity of man)? Elaborate on how this idea was originated and transmitted into civilizations across History?
  23. There has been good discussion on valid-invalid nature of concepts, Posting the details here Q9. In this chapter, generalizations are identified as true and false, while concepts are identified as valid and invalid. What is the difference between true-false assesment and valid-invalid assesment? Ans: From dictionary Valid - Having sound basis in logic and fact. True - In accordance with fact or reality. Something that is claimed true can be refuted as false with a single observation. For e.g. "all pigeons are blue" can be refuted as false with the observation of white pigeon[1]. But something that needs to be demonstrated as invalid requires some integration after plain observation to be demonstrated as invalid. So to invalidate a concept we have to look at what units it subsumes, what is its definition or essence and CCD, and I think sometimes also the propositions[2] in which it is used. The book gives example of lightness as an invalid concept, which was first conceptualized by the Greeks(Page 67 and Page 123). Lightness distinguishes air and fire from heaviness of Earth and water. Former going up and latter going down. And respective up and down motion is considered as the essential feature of each. But during late Renaissance Torricelli's experiment demonstrated that with nearby vaccum, air too can can have downward motion, as in barometer. Since the essence of concept lightness conflicted with one of the unit it subsumed, therefore the concept was invalidated[3]. The proposition "air or light objects move up" could be falsified just by the observation of Torricelli's experiments. But to invalidate concept lightness, reduction to what the concept subsumes and what is its definition and CCD is also required along with the observation of Torricelli's experiment. So while concept light and heavy, with CCD as force exerted while holding them or more accurately weighing them are valid. Metaphorically similar concepts light and heavy that have CCD as motion of corresponding units is an invalid one, since under some circumstances the motion of units was reversed. [1]Strictly speaking, some reduction like reduction of concept pigeon and blue to one percept of each is still required. But this reduction is much less than reduction needed for validating a concept, where apart from 2-3 existents concept subsumes, we also need to reduce the attributes used in definition(and further the percepts these attributes subsume). [2] In simpler terms, propositions are sentences. [3] One might argue, why lightness is invalidated, and spherical ball not rolling in magnet is delimited and not invalidated. I think reason can be, spherical ball rolling still has many situations as in understanding friction(where there are no magnets). But once lightness is invalidated, all its situations were invalidated since it was replaced by a valid concept mass to explain motions like projectile. More thoughts on valid-invalid nature of concepts So far I have written about epistemological aspect of validating concepts. That is it requires more reduction than reduction of generalizations. But more important than this I think is metaphysical aspect of validation. Let me elaborate here a bit on this. Generalizations often refer to facts about reality. So checking them with respect to what exists establishes their truth or falsehood or arbitrariness. But concepts at their base have an entity, and consciousness that grasps that entity. More specifically concepts derive from senses, senses that grasp entity in the form of percepts. So if the nature of senses change, nature of concepts also change. For e.g. if there are conceptual organisms as small as atoms, they will form concepts involving atoms perceptually. But humans have to infer these from prior concepts and from experiments based on prior concepts. So if the small conceptual organisms refer to atoms as perceptually given, without giving any prior context, their concept of atom is valid. But for humans same validation will require referring to prior concepts and experiments. Without that reference, the concept is invalid. Concept atom, prior to experimental discovery was also invalid concept. So whether or not the corresponding existent exists is necessary but not sufficient condition for the concept.
  24. Yesterday I shared answers to Questions from section on "Generalizations as Hierarchial". Sharing sample answer for wider audience. Q7. How do you reconcile the fact that first level generalizations are self-evident, and that they have component first level concepts that are universal? Ans: From TLL A "first level generalization" is one derived directly from perceptual observation, without the need of any antecedent generalizations. As such, it is composed only of first-level concepts; any form of knowledge that requires the understanding of higher-level concepts cannot be gained directly from perceptual data. Since the perceptual is self-evident, first-level generalizations are self-evident; being the basis of inductive(and therefore deductive) knowledge, they admit and require no proof. They are available, as certainities, to anyone with the requisite simple vocabulary who takes trouble to look at reality. And they are available by no other means. How do you know that pushing a ball makes it roll? There is no answer, not even by Newton or Einsten, except this : Look and see. One cannot "prove" such a generalization by deriving it from any abstract laws of motion. The laws are valid only if their first-level antecedents are valid, not the other way around. MY FURTHER ANALYSIS I think we need to separate self-evident from obvious. Obvious is designated to higher level concept or generalization that has been validated by reducing to sense-perception. Self-evident is something that is true because it is perceived without requiring any reduction. Before considering cognitive status of "first level generalization" I would consider the cognitive status of "first level concept". The proposition "This is table", is it self-evident or obvious? There is no such thing as table stamped on the percept of existent we designate as table. Whats perceived is that table is very similar to one object and in comparison somewhat different from another. And after perceiving similarities and differences we designate the objects as table. So statement "This is table" will require reduction to percepts that were used to compare objects. So statement "This is table" is obvious, but the "fact" that existent table is very similar to another existent and different from existent we classify as chair is self-evident. The cognitive status of "first level generalizations" I think is same as that of "first level concepts". They are obvious but not self-evident. A first level generalization like "Ball rolls on pushing" will first be reduced to set of propositions for validation. "This is ball", "This is push", "This is rolling". "Same existent that is ball was also pushed", "Same existent that is ball is also rolling after being pushed"(All these propositions might be pictorial assoociations rather than sentences, but this does not change the fact that these propositions were reduced from first level generalization). And then the validation of these concepts and propositions after reducing them to percepts, before we can say that "Ball rolls on pushing". FROM TLL Since first-level generalizations are the basis of all higher level inductions, they cannot be threatned or undermined by the latter. Like sense perception itself, they are impregnable to overthrow by any future discovery. This does not mean that first level generalizer is omniscient. On the contrary, it means that knowledge is contextual, and, therefore, that on any level of generalization, from first to last - certainity does not require omniscience. MY FURTHER ANALYSIS The context required to validate first level generalizations are first level concepts that are components of these first level generalizations, and the percepts corresponding to phenomena described in the generalization. And context of first level concepts are percepts that were used to form these concepts by enabling grouping of similar objects against their foil. But my further confusion was the cognitive status of generalization "All men are mortal". Is it a first level generalization? Recalling "Art of Thinking" lectures I think prior generalization would be "All men age" and "I don't know of any immortal man". Its validation has 2 parts :- 1. Establishing perceptual connection(in available context - that is among percepts that are there in my memory). Here we validate if there are any exceptions. "I don't know of any immortal man" establishes that there are no exceptions. 2. Establishing causal connection. "All men age" establishes the causal connection, which ultimately can also be reduced to perceptual. "All men age" is also a high level generalization with ultimate first level generalization achieved through "Men develop height or wrinkles"(develop is a high level concept so this is also not first level generalization) etc. and "I don't know of any immortal man" is not the generalization, but a statement that lies between particular and general, like "Some men are mortal". So clearly "All men are mortal" is not a "first level generalization". Similarly for "Ball rolls on pushing", the perceptual connection is through the percept of ball being rolled on being pushed. And causal connection is concept rolling which at some point will have characteristic such as "round object always rolls, as against cubical or other non-rounded objects which roll sometimes". I would like to emphasize that causal connection is also ultimately perceptual, but in the interest of unit-economy[1] it has to be thought of abstractly. [1] Bringing number of existents being considered to crow-epistemology.
  25. Today I posted following questions from section on "Generalizations as Hierarchial" Q1. What is pre-science? What is its role in formation of science? Q2. Demonstrate that Generalizations like concepts are hierarchial? Q3. What is reduction? What is its role in understanding generalizations of physics? Q4. Reduce Galileo's generalization "horizontal motion is unaccelerated"? Q5. Reduce the generalization "Light travels in straight lines"? Q6. What are first level generalizations? What is their significance in induction? Q7. How do you reconcile the fact that first level generalizations are self-evident, and that they have component first level concepts that are universal? Q8. Why is it necessary to qualify the context for any generalization or concept?