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About pianoGeek

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  • Birthday 03/18/1991

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  • Website URL http://aidan-matthews.blogspot.com/

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  • Interests Everything! But especially:<br />-joy,<br />-reason,<br />-meaning,<br /><br />and of course:<br />-piano.
  1. Atlas Shrugged

    *According to* their philosophy. Rand also wrote *about* her philosophy, explicitly, through the actions of her characters and in Galt's speech. Lewis does not do that. There is only one section in the book in which he philsoophizes, and that is on the very last page. And logically enough, that part is my least favorite in the whole novel!
  2. Atlas Shrugged

    I gave it an 8, because I adore Atlas Shrugged, but I see some flaws in it. (My favorite books would probably have to be C. S. Lewis's "Till We Have Faces" and Ursula K. Leguin's "The Lathe of Heaven.") First of all, I always wished the book were more personal in tone than social. I can get much more excited about two friends renouncing one another than about a country being socialized (in a book of course; generally not in real life.) That is why I like The Fountainhead better. It emphasizes the emotions and struggles of the main characters, which makes them seem more human, because they seem alive and self-directing, rather than marionettes of the author's political views, which is sort of the impression I got from Atlas Shrugged. Also, I thought it was too obvious. In the end, you aren't left with any question of what the general premise and philosophical message of the book is. If you wonder what the theme is, you can flip open to Galt's speech and there it is. I like a book better if you can savor the ends left open and wonder, "Why is it that that is so interesting? What is the author trying to say?" I dunno, maybe it's Rand's fault, and maybe it's mine for misunderstanding her work. Either way, I didn't connect emotionally with some of the characters. So I gave it an 8.
  3. Positive Outlook and Happiness

    Well, I don't really know how qualified I am to answer your question, for two reasons: I'm not "happy," and I'm not an Objectivist. I would call myself more contented, or optimistic, than actually *happy.* "Happy" is a very powerful word. I'm not sure if 15 years can actually acquire that state, or only begin to scratch the surface. Happiness is around the corner for me, and I know what I need to do to get to it. I'm not there just yet. In the meantime, I would call myself "cheery." Maybe the word you used, "radiant," is a good one as well. I'm not an Objectivist, either, but I cannot begin to say how much better off Objectivism has made me. I don't fully agree with all of it, but the core ideas about rationality, individuality, and the potential grandeur of human life have given me a set of tools with which I can now grapple with reality, where before I was incapable of coping. I think the most important attribute one gains from Objectivism is clarity of thought. The first step towards any goal, especially happiness, is seeing it clearly, and seeing clearly the obstacles along the way. Since Objectivism stresses rationality, integration, and careful observance of reality, Objectivists can shine a light through the thick darkness that comes between most people and their goals. In other words, the reason I know I can be happy is because I know fairly clearly what happiness *is* and what I have to do to get it. I know those things because of Objectivism!
  4. Hypothetical

    I apologize; "whacky" was the wrong word. I mean that on the first read-through of The Fountainhead, or Atlas Shrugged, many of the characters will do things that seem odd, or "un-hero-like," especially to someone not familiar with Miss Rand's philosophy. For instance, I thought for a great deal of the Fountainhead that Roark seemed excessively unfriendly, cold, and distant. He didn't seem "human." When I looked back over the book once I was finished, I realized he was actually the most human character in the entire novel, and that he distanced himself from second-handers like Peter Keating because they were of no value to him. (Asimov: spoilers in next Pgph! Avert your eyes! ) Roark did a lot of things that seemed "whacky" to me when I first read them. When he "raped" Dominique I was confused. When he dynamited Cortlandt I had no idea what was going on. Now I understand (or at least I understand *better*) both situations. However, to a new-comer to Obejctivism and The Fountainhead these things might at first seem to be what I called "whacky." That is all I meant by the word; I didn't mean it to be disrespectful.
  5. Hypothetical

    I agree with Kurt's advice; it's good to start with the fiction, but as for non-fiction, "Virtue of Selfishness" is good. I haven't read "Philosophy: Who Needs It," but you might also want to try For The New Intellectual, which will make you want to embrace Objectivism and never look back (I looked back, personally, but oh well.) As for fiction, I started with Fountainhead. To me, it was far less confusing than Atlas Shrugged even though I knew nothing about Objectivism at the time I read it. Roark is a fairly straightforward character; like all of Ayn Rand's characters, of course, he does some pretty whacky things that you have to think long and hard to discover the motivation of, but in general Fountainhead is simpler (and shorter) than Atlas Shrugged so I would start with that. Whatever you do, I have some general advice for you that I'm sure everyone here on the Forum probably agrees with: you should question *everything*, and that applies to things Ayn Rand said as well. She didn't mean for her ethics or even most of her epistemology to be taken for granted, so rigorously test all of her formulations, and if, like me, there are spots where you get stuck and can't see the reasoning, *stop* for a while and figure it out.
  6. Hypothetical

    Actually, "hyperbolize" is a real word. Though if it weren't, I would still admire your inventiveness.
  7. Hypothetical

    Why not? Some goods are good because they are pleasurable, make you healthy, give you a roof to sleep under, etc. Other goods---or one particular good, happiness---is good because it's a positive emotion. If you take "spirit" to mean the part of you that feels, thinks, and is conscious--that's the part you're trying to please, ultimately, and "material" goods are just a means to that end. On a different note, I agree with Asimov (btw, it's a coincidence that I picked a quotation by Asimov for my signature (: ) that hypotheticals can be very useful. In fact, valuing *anything* is considering a hypothetical, because you may or may not achieve that value. If it were sure thing, it wouldn't be worth thinking about. Disclaimer: I apologize if my definitions seem floppy. The words I use in my head to think about these things are different from the set of words Rand uses, and I'm trying to coordinate the two.
  8. Hypothetical

  9. Hypothetical

    Hi, Asimov, I'll tell you my view, but please remember that it's not (as near as I can tell) the Objectivist view. I'm not an Objectivist, so I'm not entitled to tell you what an Objectivist would say. But here's how I think of it: It would be wrong to steal simply because you could never be happy that way. As humans we are not wired to have a happy life without productivity. I can't explain why this is. The fact is, the pleasure comes from *producing* goods, not merely from *having* them, and a life of accumulating wealth effortlessly would not be fulfilling. If it were fulfilling (in a deep, long-term sense) then it would be right. But it isn't. I think it's summed up by Roark's statement in the Fountainhead that he has customers in order to build buildings; he does not build buildings in order to have customers. In your example, accumulating material wealth is like having customers, and building things is like producing (which your hypothetical person doesn't do, and thus is not happy.) Not to sound sappy, but the *spiritual* goods are more important than the *material* ones, and stealing can satisfy one but not the other. You're hypothetical person doesn't value hard work, but that's sure as heck going to give him trouble ever acquiring anything worthwhile! Can somebody tell me if this is in line with the Objectivist answer to the question? Or even close?
  10. Disintegration And Sexuality

    Oh! It changed all my posts retrogressively! ... nevermind. Thanks, Stephen.
  11. Disintegration And Sexuality

    What do homosexuals themselves claim is the root of their homosexuality? Does the average homosexual hold that the cause is biological, that they chose to be that way, that there was some psychological factor in their growing up, or some mixture of the three? I have heard claims several ways, and don't know who to trust. I am, obviously, interested in finding things like this out. I've found in my own case that introspection only gets me so far. Are there any specific books/papers you could point me to on the subject? (By the way, to those who are interested, I was previously "ex-o'ist.")
  12. Justification

    As near as I can tell, yes. They are certainly not "substantially irrational."
  13. Justification

    Thank you for the clarification; my wording was not very careful. I meant that when a discussion becomes a debate, or a power-struggle, it is no longer useful to go on. However, it may be good to come back and start another discussion later, to continue the topic.
  14. Justification

    Right. Sometimes a conversation is getting a little too emotionally heated, or the other party too stubborn, for the discussion to usefully continue. Sometimes, though, the end of a conversation doesn't signify the end of the discussion. It might also be wise to come back to that person and discuss it with them further, when things have calmed back down. Or not, if they're, like you say, completely "out to lunch."
  15. Justification

    Hey, Megan! (It's Aidan.) I would agree with the other members of the discussion board that Heinz should steal the drug, though probably not for the same reasons. What logic did you use to support your argument? I've been in your situation more times than I can count. I generally have a very difficult time just "leaving it well enough alone" and abandoning the person I'm arguing with to wallow in their own irrationality. It just doesn't *feel* right... I know that sounds emotionalistic, but what I mean is that it somehow seems excessively cruel to give up oon that person, no matter how much they would deserve that. Sometimes, for me at least, it's difficult to distinguish between intentional irrationality and muddle-headedness resulting from years upon years of having false ethics and false epistemology pounded into their heads. You should always keep in mind that convincing other people is only so valuable to you, but I don't think there's any value at all in making *no* attempt to penetrate someone's irrationality and make them see reason. You may not be able to force them to wake up, but they're only less likely to wake up if you let up on the pressure and leave them be. So I would say keep at it for as long as you care to, and give up when you feel your efforts are no longer worth it and you are not really helping. But, after all, the less someone deserves a good talking-to to set them straight, the more they need it. (I'm sure pulling *me* out of a couple holes has taught you this.) And welcome to the FORUM! I'm having a blast here. Even though I don't post that often. And even though I make a fool of myself sometimes. But everyone's very nice, so that doesn't matter. Hope that helped, Ex-o'ist* *Stephen Speicher helped me to realize recently that this is maybe not the best handle, given my patchy understanding of Objectivism (*Sigh*, I admit it.) To the forum in general: is there a way to change my handle, or do I have to register a new account?