# Jim A.

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1. ## "A is A", not "A = A"

I've been wanting to bring this up for awhile. It seems like there are some people, even a few Objectivists, that, when wanting to state the Law of Identity, say "A equals A". I find this rather surprising in the case of people who say they are Objectivists. It's practically fundamental to me that in order to understand the all-important role the Law of Identity takes in the understanding of Objectivism--and, of course, in the integration of all knowledge--one must understand that the axiom is qualitative, not quantitative. As I recall, in Algebra there is something called the "identity property", which does state that A equals A (mathematicians, please correct me if I'm wrong). That only sounds right, sense mathematics is the science of measurement. But when you apply the Law of Identity to anything, you're not measuring it. The issue is not the amount, size or degree of something. The issue is the identity of something (and can include its nature). The issue is what something is. "A is A".
2. ## "A is A", not "A = A"

As you could have probably predicted, I agree with the latter statement. Either "equals" is a substitute word or it is not. And since words means things--with "is" being a form of the verb "be", and "equals" meaning "to be equal to"--"equals" could not be a substitute.
3. ## "A is A", not "A = A"

Would you consider the word "is" to be an unnecessary word? Would it be okay if it were eliminated from the language?
4. ## "A is A", not "A = A"

I'd like to add that before A can equal itself, it has to be itself. A law of equality--which is a necessary principle for measuring anything--would depend primarily upon the Law of Identity.
5. ## "A is A", not "A = A"

I think you would agree, though, that clarity of thinking in regard to axiomatic ideas is, ultimately, a matter of life-and-death. I don't think you'd want to be worked on by a surgeon who thought, "The cessation of this person's heartbeat is equal to the turning-off of a light switch, so it's not that big of a deal." I think we both would much prefer a doctor who thought, "The cessation of this person's heartbeat is what it is--the cessation of his heartbeat. It is not the mere turning-off of a light switch; that is not a problem, because the light can easily be turned back on again. But the stopping of a heartbeat is a direct threat to this person's life, and it's not usually an easy task to get it beating again, not by a long shot. I (and any assistants who can help) must act now!" And don't you want to apply the same consistently "A is A" thinking to the direction of your own life? To the choice of your career (which millions of others, and a few philosophers over the past two thousand years or more, would love for you to be imprecise about)? To the identification of essential, basic values you want to seek in a soulmate, a future "final choice" in romantic love? To the values you find and wish to find more of in art? It is true that A equals itself. But it is more important for the sake of cognition that A is itself.
6. ## "A is A", not "A = A"

You say, "The response 'it's really big' did not answer the original question." That was exactly my point. Dave asked Robert to identify what Obamacare is, and Robert gave him only an estimate of its magnitude in response. Also, if someone says "Roark equals an architect", he might mean that Roark is an architect, but you as the listener don't know that simply from his statement. He could very well be talking about a different Roark--say, a composer--who is equal in ability to an architect. He also does not tell you in what way Roark equals an architect. Does he equal him in mathematical ability (which would be helpful in composing music)? Does he equal him in artistic ability? Does he equal a particular architect in how he conducts his personal life? Does he equal him in ethics, morally? The statement "Roark equals an architect" says very little. But if you say, "Roark is an architect", that actually says a lot, because so much in involved in the art/science of architecture. Again, you've identified what Roark is, professionally. If anyone wonders why I consider this issue of "is" versus "equals" so important, it is because I believe the clarity of one's thinking--especially in the realm of axioms, which are basic to all of one's thinking--is critical. Ultimately, it's a life-or-death issue.
7. ## "A is A", not "A = A"

Dave, a supporter of a free market for medicine: "What is Obamacare?" Robert, an Obama supporter: "It's really big." Dave: "Okay. But what is it?" Robert: "It's really good." Dave: "Once again, what is it?" Robert: "It's very benevolent." Dave: "One last time--what is it?" Robert: "It's government-controlled healthcare." Dave: "That's the kind of answer I'm looking for--an identification of Obamacare, not a measurement of it's size, it's value or it's benevolence." Robert is using a "law of equality"--"A equals A"--but is not responding, until later, to a Law of Identity question. Dave is not asking for a measurement of Obamacare, he wants to know its nature, its identity.
8. ## "A is A", not "A = A"

Let's say Roark is a composer. One could say, "Roark, as a composer, is equal in ability to the architect, Frank Lloyd Wright." Or let's say Roark's profession is not specified: "Roark is equal in ability to the architect, Frank Lloyd Wright." In either case, it is not critical to state Roark's profession; whether he's a composer or something else, he is equal in ability to Frank Lloyd Wright. We're trying to show the level of his ability here. But if we want to state the nature--the identity--of his profession, than "equals" will not work or apply. One must use "is": "Roark is a composer."
9. ## "A is A", not "A = A"

The amount of apples in this basket is equal to the amount of oranges in that basket, because A = A. But an apple is an apple, and an orange is an orange; that's because A is A.
10. ## "A is A", not "A = A"

The Law of Identity concerns identification, not measurement.
11. ## "A is A", not "A = A"

I disagree. Once again, the word "is"--instead of "equals" or some other word--is used for a reason. It means something very distinct and specific. It pertains to the identity of something, and nothing else. The level, volume, amount, degree, dollar value or size of something is a distinctly separate issue.
12. ## Happy Birthday to alann

Happy Birthday, Alann! And instead of all of us singing "Happy Birthday" to you, YOU should be singing for US!! (We'll always remember your performances on the ship.)
13. ## Immortality

B. Royce: I love the last line of your post (#3 here).

15. ## Immortality

The Twilight Zone episode I mentioned answers the question, "What if immoratility...was genuinely possible?"
16. ## Best television channels?

It's been thirty some-odd years since the introduction of cable into most homes. I've listed what I consider to be the best channels/networks on television: 1--All three C-Span channels. You get the chance to see our legislature in action; keynote speeches for a variety of events are shown, at least initially, in their entirety; interviews are conducted in a respectful way, without the intrusion of the C-Span interviewer's opinions; a wide range of points-of-view are presented. The viewer can therefore form a more objective opinion of the opinions expressed. 2--Classic Arts Showcase. Video clips of musical performances and classic films and documentaries about various artists and musicians are shown. 3--Turner Classic Movies. Classic films--and forgotten old films that should be seen again--are shown, and without commercial interruption. Are there any I should add to this short list? P.S. One complaint I have about cable: Those who remember when it first started may also remember one of the big draws to cable: no commercials! And look at it now...
17. ## Happy Birthday to Jim A.

Thank you, Paul and Betsy!!
18. ## Bill Bucko is gone

What saddens me most is that no one could find out about his passing until two months later (there are all kinds of unavoidable factors that can lead to this). Bill was unique--fiery but focused, absolutely principled and absolutely unrepressed. An amazing man. I have read many of his Facebook posts and his translation of The Mysterious Valley, but now I must read his fiction.
19. ## White Smoke above CERN

I am not a physicist. But, you know, everytime I read or hear about these new "discoveries" physicists keep coming out with I feel like somebody's trying to snow me. I suspect the physicists who made the "discovery" (I'm sure some strange particle was discovered, but I doubt whether its true nature has been discovered), and many scientists of all kinds who've read about it, are excited and relieved about this "Higgs-Boson"--excited, because its "news" they've been waiting for, and relieved because it's relationship to the "Big Bang" is one more "confirmation" of a universe that had a beginning. That would mean something coming from nothing, which is a contradiction. And that's what they want: a universe where A is non-A.
20. ## A popular philosophical "documentary"

I've been wanting to know how other people on this forum reacted to the "documentary" film "What the Bleep do We Know?", which came out several years ago. I finally saw it after two people recommended it to me. I found the film appalling. There may have been one thing said in it that I thought was true, but I can't remember what. Practically the entire film does nothing but give the viewer a philosophical excuse to give up any pursuit of certainty about anything in life. The film says that quantum mechanics is true. Well, if causality does not exist on the subatomic level, then it can "not-exist" anywhere else, too. Notice the glee that interviewed "scientists" exhibit whenever they say anything like "there are many realities" or "multiple universes". This amounts to A being non-A at the same time and in the same respect. One researcher in the film also says that the same atomic particle can be photographed on, say, the West Coast and on the East Coast at the same time; its the same particle!! But did anybody in the movie show us such a photograph?
21. ## A Demolition Of Dorsai By Gordon R. Dickson

If you want to know how not to write a science fiction novel, try reading Solaris, by Stanislaw Lem. Not difficult, just pretentious and boring. I quit half-way through. The best sci-fi writers I've read so far are: 1) John Wyndham, 2) Jules Verne, 3) H.G. Wells, 4) Fredric Brown and 5) Robert A. Heinlein (his prose and dialogue are terrible, but his stories are good, he has a great sense-of-life and his books are fun to read).
22. ## Self-funded asteroid mapping project

Jules Verne had an interesting idea about what we could get from a meteor in The Hunt for the Meteor: precious metals.
23. ## A bad movie, Identity Thief.

Thank you, Ray K. This looks like another movie I should add to my "atrocity list" of films that attack capitalism and business (big or otherwise). So far that list includes: The Game, with Michael Douglas and Sean Penn; It's a Wonderful Life; When Worlds Collide (like It's a Wonderful Life, it includes a crotchety old rich man in a wheelchair as a villainous symbol of "greedy" capitalism). Anybody have some other films that flagrantly attack the idea of making money that should be added to the list?
24. ## Happy Birthday to Linda

I second the motion!! (Even though it's a day late.) I hope your birthday yesterday "lasts" the rest of the week. --Jim Ashley
25. ## Lying locked-on for tomorrow

President Obama's lying is all-systems go, on schedule for tomorrow. The lie will be stated the moment the President, with his right hand raised, swears that he will uphold and defend or preserve and protect the Constitution of the United States.