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Posts posted by oldsalt

  1. And by the way, this was as fine a piece of work identifying the facts as I've seen. Starting with the facts, and going to the principle, is what we are supposed to do. There are those who seem to get this bass-akwards these days. I find value in both summaries. Between you and ewv, the bases are being covered nicely. Thanks to you both for the work and insights.

  2. Don't forget to add what is happening to the price of food. The mouthpieces may pooh-pooh everything as "hoarding," but I'd bet they haven't sat down and calculated what happens every time you go through your receipts. The fear is based on reality.

    I keep hearing Miss Rand say, "You asked for it, brother."

    Oldsalt, I certainly agree the same dynamics and the same principles are at work there but I want to limit my response strictly to gas prices and, with that point of focus, to "cover all the bases" right up front. I don't fancy the idea of a protracted e-mail exchange with this individual. After reading this response, he should have a fairfly clear idea as to where I would stand on any related issue and why.

    You are right, of course. While I didn't offer up a complete non sequitur, . . .

    It is just that these days, I can see the little strings flying everywhere, tying all of this into a piece. I'll try to restrain myself. :)

  3. The escalating price of petroleum products does matter. Gas is not cheap and concern for the rapidly increasing costs should not be flippantly dismissed. High prices for "bottled water" and European taxes are irrelevant. The increasing costs of oil are devasting for many people trying to heat their homes in the winter, transportation by truck and airplanes, etc. In addition to direct impacts this is adding unnecessary costs to all kinds of things that use petroleum for plastic, etc. as well as production of energy for transportation, manufacturing and electric power.

    If people want the price of energy to come down, which they should be concerned about, then defeat the Anti-Industrial Revolution. Energy production is an absolute requirement for industrial civilization, which is why it is targeted for strangulation. To decrease costs, increase supply and decrease aritificial costs imposed by government: Remove the viro bans on drilling for oil, natural gas and on the mining and use of coal, and remove the government restrictive mandates for a "mix" of expensive, hopelessly inadequate Green-approved sources for electric power, the several different refinery processes that hopelessly complicate the production and distribution of gasoline, etc. Costs are progressively getting out of hand because we are drowning in a tsunami of ideologically motivated government controls.

    Don't forget to add what is happening to the price of food. The mouthpieces may pooh-pooh everything as "hoarding," but I'd bet they haven't sat down and calculated what happens every time you go through your receipts. The fear is based on reality.

    I keep hearing Miss Rand say, "You asked for it, brother."

  4. Is a definition a statement of a fact of the essence of reality of a concept, or merely a statement of the way we use words in everyday language? When an Objectivist uses the concept "selfishness" does he mean the same thing as just about everybody else on the planet?

    I'm glad someone brought up Galt's pledge. It helps to define what a pledge is. This was something taken voluntarily by every adult entering the Gulch. Was it important to the scene to mention that it was exclusive to every adult in the valley? Just because the Pledge to the Flag is treated as a mere social good, doesn't mean that it ought to be. Consider the fact that Miss Rand used the term "selfishness" on purpose, to take back the concept, and that wasn't the only term for which she advocated this method (though I'm not going to rehearse all the instances I know of, as this audience, if they don't already know at least some of them, have the brains to look for themselves. Forgive the brevity, but time is of the essence :)).

    As one who grew up pledging to and saluting the honor of the flag, I was taught to believe that I was saluting and honoring the value of the flag. Does what that flag represent, as it flew against the British in the 1812 war, and all that that battle bought for us, not a value to be honored? That battle is the genesis of of the honor. It is also the genesis of our National Anthem. There is almost everything about the song that owns something objectionable, if we look. But we ignore our own history by doing so, rather than by making corrections to the meaning of the words, or simply changes the song's emphasis. Does this mean that we also toss the justified honor of the Pledge?

    I know that Dr. Binswanger and others have spoken against the idea of the Pledge. I don't agree, obviously. Since I don't care to look up and go into those arguments, I won't address them. But I am aware of them and have taken them into account.

    As for the grammatical objections, I find them unpersuasive. Do we no longer allow justified poetic license on the part of the author?

    I like it Byron. Just as I always love your work.

  5. Academic Intimidation, by Thomas Sowell

    There is an article in the current issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education -- the trade publication of the academic world -- about professors being physically intimidated by their students.

    "Most of us dread physical confrontation," the author says. "And so these aggressive, and even dangerous, students get passed along, learning that intimidation and implied threats will get them what they want in life."

    This professor has been advised, at more than one college, not to let students know where he lives, not to give out his home phone number and to keep his home phone number from being listed.

    This is a very different academic world from the one in which I began teaching back in 1962. Over the years, I saw it change before my eyes.

    [read the rest at Real Clear Politics.]

    Then we have The Adversarial Campus, by Mark Bauerlein, at Minding the Campus.

    Against repeated accusations of leftwing bias on campus, professors have mounted many rejoinders [sic] disputing one or another item in the indictment. They claim that the disproportion isn't as high as reports say. Or that reports focus on small pockets (women's studies, etc.). Or that party registration is a crude indicator. Or that conservatives are too greedy and obtuse to undergo academic training.

    The denials go on, and sometimes it's hard to tell whether professors really believe in their own neutrality or whether they just hope to brazen out the attacks. One response, however, stands apart, precisely because it doesn't deny a darn thing in the bias charge. Indeed, it concedes every empirical point - "Yes, left-wing people, left-wing ideas, and left-wing texts dominate," but it adds, "And that's exactly as it should be."

  6. I am in a grad class at the University of Michigan on television in American Culture. We jst read Enlightened Racism by Sut Jhally, a study paid for by Bill and Camille Cosby. Jhally concludes that the Cosby show was one of the worst things that ever happened to African Americans and to American TV. Casting them as it did, the show gave a wholly unrealistic portrayal of African Americans and let White America off the hook for racism. Oh by the way, the American Dream is a bill of goods sold by crass captitalists and most Americans are mindless consumers. Quite a piece of work! If the old Horror File were still around, this book would be in it.

    Yes . . . I remember well these kinds of "critiques" of the Cosby Show when in originally aired in the 1980s. I dismissed them then, and I dismiss them now. In the case of my family, it resembled the Cosby's in almost every respect and had done so since at least the late 19th Century. Furthermore, although some members of our extended family were of the "Jack and Jill" or Dorothy West set (read, loaded), my immediate family was neither particularly "wealthy" nor "exceptional" in any other way: our neighborhood was made up of other families who shared most of the same values and approaches to life.

    The suggestion that the Cosby's did not reflect the reality of some if not most Black Americans (I detest the expression "African American" incidentally) is patently false. On the contrary. The Cosby family reflected the aspirations, achievements, dignity, refinement and grace that was a part of the daily fabric of our lives; that, in fact, made them possible in the years preceding the 1960s Civil Rights movement. It is impossible to support the notion that the portrayal of these attributes could ever be "the worst things that ever happened to [African] Americans" unless, of course, one is opposed to the very idea of aspiration, achievement, dignity, refinement and grace for Black Americans. Unfortunately, it is precisely such opposition that has become the litmus test for anyone who would aspire to the position of "Black Leader" (read, grievance hustler) today.

    I was happy to see you address A N Other's post, which is as fine an example of education at "Indoctrination U" as I've seen. The position taught is thoroughly racist, assuming that there are no Black Americans but those who indulge themselves in the lowest gangsta culture. We can see the same thing happening in the ridiculous statements by some Black "leaders" who say that Obama isn't "black enough," an assertion made against Condolezza Rice, Colin Powell, and every other Black American who doesn't march in lockstep with the rest of a group defined by minority status and victimhood. These people are accused of "acting white," which statement damns young Black Americans to the collectivized mindset of the Left, with its attendant dependency on ... the Left.

  7. Is it true that the form of an argument (or statement), and what the form tells you about how that person came to the conclusions in his argument, is irrelevant to the truth or falsehood of the conclusion?

    Yes, it is true. The conclusion in reality (existence) differs from the conclusion as held by the argument-presenter in his own mind (consciousness). That an idea is improperly integrated or presented has no bearing on the truth of the idea. As you very well know, existence exists independent of consciousness.

    Truth or falsehood does not apply to existence. Existence is the standard of truth or falsehood for a conceptual consciousness and would never come up in any other context. If a person has failed somewhere in his logic, i.e., has failed to integrate perceived facts without contradiction with the rest of his knowledge, then he has committed a mistake that will give him trouble to one degree or another down the line.

    As for the quarreling, I find no real difference between Brian's insistence that others conform to his standards for discussion, and those who demand that Brian conform to theirs. Yes, I know that it involves more (in particular, objective rules for discussion on the FORUM), but because of the personalities involved, people have become frustrated, angry, and sarcastic in presenting their arguments.
    I don't mean to be rude or unkind - I generally think highly of you - but your first sentence here is unfortunate, and your second veers dangerously close to ad hominem (if isn't in fact ad hominem).

    My first statement is my own evaluation of the essence of the disagreement. You do not say why you find it unfortunate, but I'll try to explain. Brian has his standards for conducting a discussion. I have no problems with his standards, though I think that the way he presents his arguments can be off-putting, and obviously leaves some people feeling personally attacked. Others have different standards for a discussion which do not include a meticulous adherence to formal logic, but rather focuses on the general politeness towards others within a discussion. There has not been any concession of one side to the other. I think both sides have something valid to say about the way discussions are conducted. The point, to me, is to find an objective way to define the rule. If it goes strictly by the way someone feels when challenged, then there is no way to define any objective rule. If the demand is for a strict and formal logical construction, then I, for one, am left out because I don't have the necessary knowledge. Aside from that fact, there comes a point where a focus on structure can become nothing more than argument for argument's sake, and feels very much as though it is being used to pound an opponent into the ground. Nothing is gained by this. That is, if the purpose of a discussion is to either learn something new, or to persuade another to one's thinking, and focusing on logical structure isn't accomplishing the goal, but rather defeating the purpose, then another approach is required. This doesn't mean that one ignores logic, but that one doesn't make an issue of it to the point that the purpose of the discussion flies out of the window.

    As for my second sentence: I have attacked no one. I have assiduously confined myself to general statements. It is a fact of human nature, however, that different personalities sometimes rub each other the wrong way. This isn't casting aspersions. There are people I respect, but with whom I wouldn't care to sit down to dinner. This is because sometimes even those I respect get on my nerves. So let's forget my general statement--which I disagree is an attack on anyone--and confine it to myself. I have become frustrated with the discussion, which has made me angry at times, and which has caused me to bite my virtual tongue so that I do not use sarcasm to point out the irony of certain posts. There. I've attacked myself and I'm insulted as all get out! (That's a joke, son. Pitiful, I know, but then I'm no wit.)

    The essential point of this thread is that going far off-topic on a thread commits the fallacy of context-dropping.

    I'm not sure I agree with this. I'll have to think about it. But I am happy to see that you've included it. It makes me think we might make progress after all. :D

  8. It cannot be automatically assumed that pointing out some fallacy instantly discredits the conclusion. That expectation is indeed an ad hominem. It's not always clear how a person reached a certain conclusion as well; so assuming certain premises and certain deductive chains in a person that lead to a conclusion you as a debater disagree with, is likewise mind-reading.

    I do not understand this statement. How does pointing out a fallacy within an argument, whether it discredits the conclusion or not, amount to an ad hominem?

    The basic point is, it's fine to understand and notice fallacies. But more so, let's talk about the facts of the matter; and let's not emphasize the person's faulty processes, because oftentimes you actually have no idea what they are, and instead emphasize the conclusions they reached.

    Compare "you are not thinking this properly" to "the facts are different here".

    I agree that the focus of one's questions about a particular statement can certainly make a difference in how the questions are received. If one's purpose is to learn or to persuade, keeping the discussion within the bounds of polite and respectful expression is very important. Discussions can get heated enough without personal epitaths being tossed in with this or that point. But what I'm not understanding is how a fallacy does not rise to the level of being a fact of reality, along with all the rest of the facts. I understand that it isn't the focus of a discussion, that would rightly be the subject being discussed. But we often have a difficult enough time understanding what each other is saying--and what they mean by what they are saying--and it seems to me that I am being asked to ignore something that may very well be crucial to coming to an understanding.

    Overly emphasizing the (perceived) process, and the person saying it, can indeed be very offensive. NOTE, not that it's improper to be offensive either; but on a Forum like this where benevolence is the law of the land, it's certainly improper, even if the offense was only in the eye of the beholder and not intended by the speaker [bold emphasis added].

    Once again, I agree that it is important to stay focused on the subject being discussed. But the subject is being discussed by people. People are giving their opinions. If they are here, I assume that they are putting those opinions out there for the purposes of discussion, not merely making flat statements expecting automatic agreement.

    It is because man is neither infallible nor omniscient, and, especially because knowledge is contextual, that I engage in discussions with others. I may very well have made an error in my thinking because my knowledge is limited, something that another person with more, or different, knowledge can point out to me. But benevolence is a two way street, requiring both parties to show respect for each other's mind. With this in mind, I don't easily take offense because something I've said is under contention. Unless I have ample and overt evidence that I'm being personally attacked and insulted, I give the benefit of the doubt to the speaker, recognizing that some people have a way of speaking that can be off-putting. I try to focus on what is being said, not how it is being said. I think this is especially important in a context where all we have to go on are another's written words. It sometimes takes a special effort, which I'm not always in the mood to make, in which case, I don't engage.

    The part I emphasized in your statement above, however, seems to say that I'm supposed to consider the fact that no matter how careful I am in framing my point, I have behaved improperly if someone takes exception and feels insulted--"even if the offense was only in the eye of the beholder and not intended by the speaker." With this onus, how is anyone to feel comfortable saying anything? I don't mind making my meaning clear if someone has misunderstood me, but I could never enter a discussion knowing that any perceived insult by any one involved means that I am behaving improperly.

  9. All the back-and-forth so far has only served to confuse me and, I suspect surveying the wild topic drift and a landscape littered with dead crows, many other posters as well.

    Dead crows describes my epistemological state very well. It is why I keep trying to find the essence of what this argument is about. Trying to find some kind of coherence in all of the discrete statements has become almost impossible for me.

  10. Well, let's hear it for the frivolous! I thought both machines were great.

    They are, it's just funny to put even a powerhouse such as the Veyron against one of the most advanced jet fighters; the "contest" is silly and they knew it, but it's one more opportunity to see cool, fast machines go full tilt, which I think is the point.

    Yes, that's what I got. And I loved watching it, incongruity and all. :D

  11. As I understand it, some are saying that the form of a person's argument is irrelevant to whether the conclusions are valid (or right, or true, or correct--any form you use as a standard), and that one need only check the facts of reality in judging a particular statement. By this standard of argument, it is said that who is making an argument (or statement) isn't important, and that it is off topic to discuss anything but the ideas expressed. At least, this is the gist of what I've gotten from the many different posts.

    Is it true that the form of an argument (or statement), and what the form tells you about how that person came to the conclusions in his argument, is irrelevant to the truth or falsehood of the conclusion? I comment on certain blogs that I enjoy for varying reasons. Most of the time it amounts to nothing more than chit-chat. There are times, e.g., about the war and the way it is being conducted, when I am very serious and point out something crucial. Other commenters will genuinely agree with what I've said, and in the next breath express their admiration and appreciation for the self-sacrifice of our troops--sometimes stating explicitly that it is the self-sacrifice that makes heroes. This is because they understand that the facts they observe prove my point--and they agree for the wrong reasons. Wrong metaphysical premises, valid conclusion in reality. This is a logical fallacy, the consequences of which are evident all around us. It is at the base of what is wrong with conservatives of all stripes. Even those who understand logic, and use it explicitly, end up getting it wrong because their premises are false, and even when they manage to come to a valid conclusion, they are helpless to apply the principle involved across their thinking.

    Do the consequences in reality say anything important about the nature and value of logic? The depth of the fallacies committed by an individual who agrees that we ought to allow our forces to protect themselves first, and also thinks that the principle of self-sacrifice is moral, is great and requires a careful explication to bring the principle involved to bear in a serious discussion. The same may be said about someone who asserts that, while they agree in principle, but think that the principle is impractical in practice. Since we deal with individual minds in any discussion, it means that we are discussing that individual's way of thinking.

    I can only speak to what I personally get out of this site. Above the fact that I don't have to "begin at the beginning," I value the conversation because I value the quality of the individual minds I engage here. This engagement is of a special category. All I have are your words and how your mind uses those words to form ideas. This is true no matter the subject being discussed, or the level of gravity given to the subject. Because I am talking to an individual mind, I cannot separate what is said from the mind that conceived it. I think of it as a part of the way I show my respect for the individual mind. Another part of showing my respect is to assume that the individual I'm talking to is honest and rational, and therefore, capable of being persuaded. If I judge that this is not the case, I don't waste my time or mental effort in the attempt. For example, I said earlier that there is a good discussion on this thread about the nature and value of logic. If it were not for that, we'd be left with nothing but contentious quarreling and I, for one, would not still be here.

    As for the quarreling, I find no real difference between Brian's insistence that others conform to his standards for discussion, and those who demand that Brian conform to theirs. Yes, I know that it involves more (in particular, objective rules for discussion on the FORUM), but because of the personalities involved, people have become frustrated, angry, and sarcastic in presenting their arguments. I commend Betsy and Brian, as well as the rest who have contributed to the substantives in the argument while "in the heat of battle." It is what makes this thread valuable to me.

  12. The Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group returned to San Diego last Saturday, bringing home some 2200 members of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit from Iraq, where they've spent the last 7 months fighting the insurgency in Anbar province. If you've kept up with the news, you know how successful they were. Returning with the Amphibious Assault Ship, USS Bonhomme Richard, were the USS Denver and the USS Rushmore. Altogether, we welcomed home almost 5,000 Sailors and Marines. Yeah! It was something to watch the Marines disembark by helicopters and boats, while the three amphibious assault ships sat offshore by Camp Pendleton.

    Anyway, I've been busy doing my very little bit. But I couldn't let Thanksgiving arrive without wishing you all a very happy day and give you my thanks for making my life so much fuller. (One little example: the discussion on logic, and all that has grown out of it, has sent me back to books, articles, and lectures I haven't read or listened to for a while. When things slow down enough, I'll be back and try to catch up, but the experience has been stimulating, to say the least. :D For that I thank everyone who has participated.) There are times when just touching base here gives me a boost! So, thanks to you all for the value you add to my life, just by being your worthy selves.

    Betsy, I send a special thanks to you for keeping THE FORUM going, and for being a mentor and inspiration by the example of how you live your life. No disagreement could change the way you've touched my life. I hope you and Matt have a good day.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

  13. It still remains to be seen how successful the surge in Iraq has been. The following article provides one more example on how the "Battle of Iraq" in the "Long War Against Terrorism" is having a negative impact on our military.

    Perhaps some context? What is the historical desertion rate for American armies during time of war, and how does this compare?

    According to this article at "The American Thinker":

    November 18, 2007

    Military Desertion Rates and the Associated Press

    By Alan Fraser


    According to author Rod Powers (who spent 23 years in the Air Force), the desertion rates per 1,000 for the Army and Marines from 1997 through 2004 are as follows:


    1997 2,218 : 4.58 per 1,000

    1998 2,520 : 5.20 per 1,000

    1999 2,966 : 6.13 per 1,000

    2000 3,949 : 8.16 per 1,000

    2001 4,597 : 9.50 per 1,000

    2002 4,483 : 9.26 per 1,000

    2003 3,678 : 7.60 per 1,000

    2004 2,376 : 4.91 per 1,000

    Marine Corps

    1997 1,375 : 7.94 per 1,000

    1998 1,460 : 8.43 per 1,000

    1999 1,689 : 9.75 per 1,000

    2000 2,019 : 11.66 per 1,000

    2001 1,310 : 7.57 per 1,000

    2002 1,136 : 6.56 per 1,000

    2003 1,236 : 7.14 per 1,000

    2004 1,297 : 7.49 per 1,000

    Look at the above rates of Army desertion in the years just prior to the Iraq war. Years 2000, 2001, and 2002 (8.16, 9.5, 9.26) show higher rates than we have had during this terrible quagmire of an Iraq war, with its multiple tours of duty.

    Why doesn't AP correspondent Lolita C. Baldur discuss that?

    Powers states that in the fiscal year the Iraq war began (the invasion was March 2003) the desertion rate was 7.6 per 1,000, the same as 2006, a terrible year for the U.S. in Iraq. The AP article seems to be confused as to fiscal years. According to Powers, the desertion rate was quite low, 4.91, for fiscal year 2004 (from October 1, 2003 through September 30, 2004), not fiscal 2003 as stated in the AP article.

    A rate of less that 5 per 1,000 eight months after the start of the Iraq War? This is a rate that was much lower than the rate prior to the begininng of the Iraq War.

    The AP article also does a poor job of putting these desertion rates in historical context. It was just a year and a half ago that another news organization was exclaiming how historically low the desertion rates were then: "U.S. Military Desertion Rate Drops"

    With about 15 minutes of internet research, even a non-journalist can put the Iraq War desertion rates in context. What was the desertion rate during World War II?

    "Desertion during World War II was no less a problem than in previous wars. Desertion rates peaked at 6.3% [that's 63 per 1,000] in 1944, but dropped to 4.5% [45 per 1,000] the following year. During the war, 21,049 soldiers were sentenced for desertion..." Desertion And the American Soldier: 1776-2006, Robert Fantina, Page 116.

    That was "The Greatest Generation"! So how great is today's generation of soldiers who have a desertion rate of 1/10th the rate of The Greatest?

    Of all the guys who served during World War II, over two thirds of them were drafted. What percent of today's soldiers are draftees?

    How do the desertion rates of today's soldiers compare to the rates during the Vietnam War? The article discusses it a bit but here is more: in 1966 the rate was 14.7 per 1,000; by 1970 the Army had a rate of 52.3 per 1,000. [Vietnam and America: A Documented History , Marvin E. Gettleman page 334.] The Vietnam rates are all lower than the rate of the Greatest Generation. The desertion rate for the Korean War was 22.5 per 1,000. [ibid, Page 334.]


  14. --------

    A perceptual consciousness integrates sensations automatically into percepts. If one studies children, and those animals who operate on a high perceptual level of consciousness (such as dolphins or elephants), one sees that a great deal can be accomplished on a strictly perceptual level. But man owns a conceptual consciousness, which is not automatic, but requires him first to validate his concepts, and then to integrate his concepts in such a manner that one does not contradict another--i.e., he must consciously determine the truth or falsehood of his concepts in order to validate or prove whether or not they correspond to reality. This is why the discovery of a proper method of non-contradictory integration, i.e., logic, is so important.


    I would disagree with some of your formulation. Children are using their conceptual faculty as soon as they start using words. I'm not clear on what you mean by "requires him first to validate his concepts." Are you saying that he must do this before he can use his conceptual consciousness? Or before he knows that concepts correspond to reality? Logic was around a long time before the objective demostration of what concepts are and how they correpsond to reality was discovered (ITOE).

    Children have no choice in the use of their conceptual faculty because that is the nature of human consciousness. Children use words, their first words being those that relate directly to reality. Concepts are built as they learn that "table," for instance, means more than this or that particular table. They are able to do this because the rational faculty is at the base of a conceptual consciousness. They automatically attempt to apply rational rules to what they are learning. The attempt can be seen when a child attempts to apply implicit rules of grammar to his conversation. For instance, it took some doing to explain to my nephew that, yes, you plug something in, but the proper way of expressing the opposite isn't "plugging it out," but "unplugging" it. In other words, implicit logic was used before it was formally defined because that is the nature of man's mind. The problem with leaving this "common sense" without a formal definition and understanding is that a man leaves himself open to false conclusions. The closer this false conclusion is to reality, the greater his error becomes as he abstracts from abstractions (this is why if your premises are wrong, what follows will be wrong, regardless of whatever correct observations you use*). What suffices for a child, who has adults around him to protect him from his inexperience and false conclusions, does not suffice for an adult who is dealing with more complex abstractions which are further from reality. This is why Objectivism teaches that one must not only start with reality, but must reduce his abstractions back to reality.

    Since none of these higher functions of a conceptual consciousness are automatic, man requires a method of checking the validity of his thinking all along the way. Knowing kinda sorta how to do this, i.e., utilizing the implicit, or crude logic of common sense, may suffice for one's thinking about subjects close to reality, but as you abstract further from from perceptible reality, mistakes become more pronounced and it becomes very difficult to apply common sense with any confidence. If you doubt this, read the editorial pages of any newspaper, or listen to any political speech, where this kind of thinking leads to very dangerous, real life situations.

    * I'm not satisfied with this formulation as it stands and can only hope you get my drift. Consider it an example. :D

  15. What need is there to study logic at all?

    Well, for one thing, you wouldn't find yourself having this discussion--having to defend yourself against someone's accusation of illogic by saying that logic is unnecessary, and more, unwanted, in a debate.

    If a man is decently rational does he actually need to be able to identify specific kinds of logical fallacies and know their definitions, or wouldn't he be able to identify and explain why something is illogical just fine?

    1. What do you mean by "decently rational?"

    2. How, using what means, is person able to identify and explain that something is illogical "just fine?" Forget discussing a particular topic with someone else for a moment. How do you validate your own thinking on any subject? Do you "just know?" Have a gut feeling? Does it just seem right to you? Based on what?

  16. When determining whether something is true or false, what specific function does logic play that is different than the function of evidence?
    One must begin with reality--the evidence of the senses, whether it be cause and effect between entities, or a statement made by someone. Logic is what allows one to integrate this evidence into the rest of one's knowledge without contradiction; i.e., to correctly integrate information, making it knowledge.


    Man requires a valid method of integrating the evidence of the senses because the nature of a conceptual consciousness is such that his knowledge is not hard-wired into his consciousness, giving him automatic knowledge. Neither is man infallible. If he is to count what he knows as knowledge, he must have a means of verifying the truth or falsehood of his conclusions before it can be counted as knowledge.

    Children learn and integrate an enormous amount of knowledge before age 5, but judging by the delightfully illogical things young children often say, their grasp of logic is tenuous at best.

    How do very young children integrate their knowledge without logic? What does being logical add to the process?

    A perceptual consciousness integrates sensations automatically into percepts. If one studies children, and those animals who operate on a high perceptual level of consciousness (such as dolphins or elephants), one sees that a great deal can be accomplished on a strictly perceptual level. But man owns a conceptual consciousness, which is not automatic, but requires him first to validate his concepts, and then to integrate his concepts in such a manner that one does not contradict another--i.e., he must consciously determine the truth or falsehood of his concepts in order to validate or prove whether or not they correspond to reality. This is why the discovery of a proper method of non-contradictory integration, i.e., logic, is so important.

    I find the search for cause and effect by children very fascinating. Besides testing for sensation (e.g., a child putting everything in his mouth), testing for cause and effect seems to take up most of their time, whether it involves material entities or the reactions of other people around them. Most children show a remarkable patience and persistence in this. This suggests the importance of cause and effect in building the perceptual foundation that man's conceptual knowledge rests on (and why a child's environment plays such an important role in the way he develops mentally).

  17. But I have neither the knowledge of grammar, nor schooling in logic to accomplish this.

    A prime characteristic of rationalism - which is not an expression of rationality - is a complete dependence on deductive logic (or, at least what is purported to be deductive logic) and hair-splitting to the Nth degree, with a wanton disregard for: context; integration with specific facts as the faux-logical argument proceeds (especially those outside of the immediate discussion); value hierarchy (both in one's self and the one responded-to); the actual truth of deduced conclusions; and other problems. It's a real and pervasive problem for many otherwise very intelligent thinkers.

    You don't need to have self-doubt about some part of your cognitive abilities because you can't follow a ridiculously contorted faux-logical argument that actually makes no sense at all. Ayn Rand's thoughts were sometimes difficult but note that she invariably kept her ideas tied to existence, with brilliant clarity, and entirely without such torrents of rationalistic verbiage that express a lot of movement without action (to paraphrase Ben Franklin.)

    What you say about rationalism is correct, but I don't think that Brian is being rationalistic, nor do I think his arguments are "faux-logic."

    I have no self-doubt about my cognitive abilities. I was pointing out an area where I know my knowledge is deficient--to my detriment. It does me no good to pretend that I have abilities that I don't possess, or to ignore the fact that I do not possess the ability to argue my point with confidence because of this lack.

    This doesn't mean that I think I have to point the logic out to everyone I talk to. It does mean that having the ability gives me more confidence in my own conclusions, and in my discussions with others. It saves an enormous amount of time, as well, time that can be spent on other things.