Jim A.

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Everything posted by Jim A.

  1. Objectivist Culture

    To Boethius: In the first sentence of your initial post, you refer to the "disintegration of Objectivism". Maybe there is disintegration taking place in the Objectivist movement--that is, disintegration of relationships between Objectivists--but Objectivism itself is not disintegrating. That system of ideas is solid, integrated, whole, perfect--perfect for a rational, integrated mind to live by. That, really, is all that matters when it comes to philosophy as put into practice by individuals.
  2. Happy Birthday to Paul's Here

    Have a great birthday, Paul!
  3. Q regarding Whitman's, "O Me! O Life!"

    I can't stand poetry that doesn't rhyme. And as for what Whitman means by "identity", Betsy is probably right, but I'm not sure if Whitman seriously meant anything by any of the words in this poem. Someone I know says her favorite poem is "When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer", by Whitman (it's in LEAVES OF GRASS). When I then read it, I thought: Why? Does anyone know what that poem says? It sounded to me like Whitman was saying, "Keep the mysteries of the Universe mysterious" (in other words, don't seek to understand the Universe). My friend agreed. I would, however, love to read a rhyming poem about how wonderful it is that existence exists, that things have identity and are what they are, that the Universe is orderly. Does anyone know of any?
  4. Happy Birthday, mweiss!! (Geez, does your avatar mean that no birthday gifts can be opened until Doomsday?)
  5. The home page says that Lady Brin would have been 58 today. I will always remember the cheerful personality she exhibited in her posts, and I can remember a nice photo of her proudly standing next to a new sportscar.
  6. I've been wondering for awhile about the position of the fact of volition in the hierarchy of ideas. The three basic axioms in a consistently rational philosophy, according to Dr. Leonard Peikoff in Objectivism: the Philosophy of Ayn Rand (which I last read years ago), are: existence, identity and consciousness. But what about volition? I've searched through Dr. Peikoff's book, but I cannot find anything stating that free will is an axiom. Is it? It seems to me it would be as basic and necessary to cognition that one would not be able to think properly without holding the idea of volition, either consiously or implicitly.
  7. Ender's Game (2013)

    Just another big-budget space movie with no ideas, flat characters, improbable characters, improbable events, stupid situations, etc.. (And what the hell was the objective or goal of those training exercises, anyway?) But one might ask: "Improbable? What do you want--naturalism in a space movie?" No, I want romantic realism. The best space movie around is still Gravity--I consider it the best space movie since Apollo 13 or The Empire Strikes Back.
  8. If Ayn Rand were still alive, what question would you most like to ask her?
  9. My question: If language--that is, a word--is necessary for the grasping of a concept, is it possible that valid, high-level concepts for which we don't yet have words could be formed sometime in the future?
  10. That would be interesting to know. I have enormous respect for Dr. Peikoff, and liked OPAR and The Ominous Parallels a lot. But while I find everything in those books to be valid, Dr. Peikoff's thinking/writing style is different in some way than Ayn Rand's. So, yes, I, too, would like to know what she would think. But as for the question I would most want to ask her myself--I'll have to think about that. (Incidentally, I didn't know where else on the Forum I should have left my initial post. Would another section or department have been better?)
  11. Happy Birthday to B. Royce

    Happy Birthday, Brian!!
  12. It has cost 2.5 billion dollars for the Curiosity mission to Mars. Is that much taxpayers' money warranted for a space project that has no relation to military research or military preparedness and whose primary purpose is to find out whether Mars was once capable of supporting life (and hasn't that been the objective of a number of previous missions to Mars? and did they find any positive answers?)? More to the point: should any of taxpayers' money be channeled to such a project? For too long people have taken it for granted that the government has a role in helping man to expand his knowledge. It's time to get rid of that idea and, more fundamentally, the idea that government should do more than just govern, i.e., run the police, the courts and the military.
  13. Gravity (2013)

    I liked Gravity for a number of reasons, but most of all because it is one of the few space films I've seen that take place in a universe with absolute laws (I guess you would call that an Aristotelian universe?). The "Force" isn't in it, and everything that happens is scientifically plausible. I didn't give it a sense-of-life rating of more than "7" because the film does seem to present the absolutes of the physical universe as being scary--absolutes like gravity, inertia, and temperature--but it also presents their absoluteness as good, because you know what they can do and you can rely on them. I see that as being part of a benevolent universe. I remember someone once telling me that there are no absolutes in life, and that if there were we would never have made it to the moon. Gravity would tell this person that there are absolutes in the physical universe as well as in philosophy and life; if there were not, we would never have made it to the moon--or back to earth. And watching this film in 3-D (which I highly recommend), during a scene in which one character starts drifting away into outer space, I found myself, like the film's characters, yearning for the absolute of gravity.
  14. GRAVITY

    Gravity, starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. Directed by Alfonso Cuaron.
  15. Happy Birthday Betsy Speicher

    Happy Birthday, Betsy! You've done so much for other Objectivists' and Ayn Rand fans' ability to express themselves and communicate with one another since you and Stephen got this forum moving. We're all extremely grateful.
  16. Truth about the Atlas Shrugged Part 3 Kickstarter

    If the producers of ATLAS SHRUGGED: PART 3 are doing these things, I'm not surprised. I've said it elsewhere either on this forum or on Facebook that a great director and a great screenwriter won't resort to taking polls or giving people questionnaires on how their film should be made. And they don't resort to this other kind of stuff, either.
  17. It seems that the only piece of writing that one or two networks mentioned and showed Senator Cruz reading from was "Green Eggs and Ham", by Dr. Seuss. The purpose of that, of course, was to make it appear as if Cruz was just wasting everyone's time--the few that were present in the room--wasting his own time and didn't take his subject seriously. It may have also been used to "demonstrate" that Cruz is an idiot, when he clearly is not.
  18. In Memoriam: Allan Gotthelf

    Betsy, do you know if the memorial service will be recorded, put on DVD and made available for purchase through the Ayn Rand Bookstore (or another company)?
  19. I'll always remember a line (which is probably a famous quote) from an old Twilight Zone episode: "There's nothing in the dark that isn't there when the lights are on." For me, that is an expression of recognizing and looking at objective reality.
  20. Recently, I went to see the haunted house thriller, The Conjuring. I don't usually see this kind of movie, but a friend wanted me to see it with her. It was an interesting experience for me, not because the film is one I would encourage people to see, but because for me it was a measure of the distance I have travelled psychologically since 1976. Why do I mention a year? Because in 1976, I was an agnostic, and, therefore, could be swayed either way on the issue of the existence of God (and the supernatural) depending on the power of someone's argument (power, not necessarily validity). In that year, the film The Omen (the original) was released to theaters. That movie--a story about the Anti-Christ arriving on earth--was so manipulative and powerfully malevolent that, because I was wishy-washy in the area of metaphysics, almost scared me right into church. For years I had a sense of metaphysical dread when starting to watch any horror film based on the supernatural. So, at first, I was a little hesitant about seeing The Conjuring. But--for the sake of a good time with a friend--I went. This time I didn't have that feeling of what I call metaphysical dread (in fact, my friend, who had her face covered for most of the movie, told me that when she looked at me I seemed pretty calm). I attribute this to the fact that sense I first began to study Objectivism and realized how important it is to recognize the Law of Identity--that a thing is always itself, that A is A--and the primacy of existence I have instead developed a sense of what I call metaphysical serenity or metaphysical confidence. I may have jumped once or twice during the movie's scary moments, but I didn't have that overall sense that I was living in a "nightmare universe". In fact, through the whole film, I kept thinking that the events I was watching on the screen could not really happen, and that I live in a rational universe. Even though the producers of the movie have stated that it is based on a true story(!).
  21. It is stupid. And the worst example of this kind of movie, I think, is The Exorcist. It was so preposterous that it didn't even scare me, the way I thought back then. But what's even more stupid is when people let these movies--and the hellfire and brimstone sermons they listen to in church--terrify them to the extent they do. They fear not only God, but the Devil and Hell. They don't stop and ask themselves: If I go to Hell, will I have the urgent need to find a burn clinic? (Which reminds me: the best--and only truly correct--description of hell, or the punishment one would receive after "Judgment Day" that I have ever read can be found in the essay "Philosophy and Sense-of-Life" in The Romantic Manifesto, by Ayn Rand.)
  22. Women, beauty and self-image

    It is possible that, as you say, the people posting the photo might be seeking acceptance for women who've had mastectomies. That would be understandable, but if acceptance by others and not self-acceptance (or self-love) is the objective then posting photos of such women with their chests exposed is not the way to achieve it. I don't know what would be the right way; I just don't think a posting like that is.
  23. Women, beauty and self-image

    There is a photograph floating around on the Internet that has ended up on my Facebook timeline. You may have seen it. It shows a woman with a beautiful face, but her chest is exposed and you can see that she has had a double mastectomy. Above or below the photo is a caption that tells you to click on "Like" if you find what you see attractive, and implies that if you don't, there's something wrong with you. I take it this was aimed primarily at male viewers. I did not find the woman's absence of breasts attractive, and I feel no shame for that. The attempt to induce guilt in male viewers for preferring beautiful women who still have their breasts may be the motive of the photographer and of the individual who posts such a photo, but it only serves to diminish and trivialize the seriousness of the decision a woman has to make when she's choosing whether to have a mastectomy, single or double. That has to have some sort of effect on a woman's view of herself, and of her own attractiveness. Is there anyone who actually thinks that Angelina Jolie's decision to have a double mastectomy was easy?
  24. Women, beauty and self-image

    The photo and posting imply that a woman is just as attractive without her breasts as she is with them. If that is true, then a woman would have no problem deciding to have her breasts removed. "A mastectomy? Oh, sure, why not? What the heck!"
  25. Women, beauty and self-image

    Good question.