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Ayn Rand (does not) describe herself and other thoughts regarding Rand
Posted: 16 June 2013 09:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 76 ]
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TimB - 14 June 2013 10:08 PM

Harry Binswanger’s input was appreciated but it may have just been a drive-by, as he hasn’t had any further participation.  Does anyone else have knnowledge of Objectivism, that could respond to the questions that I posed for HB?  :

Is this statement correct?: “A central tenet of Objectivism is that reality is independent of consciousness.”  If so does that mean that consciousness is viewed by Objectivists as a phenomenon that somehow exists separately from reality, and i.e., is not an outgrowth of processes that have occurred in the unfolding of the natural universe?

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Posted: 17 June 2013 01:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 77 ]
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TimB - 14 June 2013 10:08 PM

Harry Binswanger’s input was appreciated but it may have just been a drive-by, as he hasn’t had any further participation.  Does anyone else have knnowledge of Objectivism, that could respond to the questions that I posed for HB?  :

Is this statement correct?: “A central tenet of Objectivism is that reality is independent of consciousness.”  If so does that mean that consciousness is viewed by Objectivists as a phenomenon that somehow exists separately from reality, and i.e., is not an outgrowth of processes that have occurred in the unfolding of the natural universe?

If that was the real Harry B. driving by, he’s about THE best authority on AR there is. I would trust his opinions and trust that his posts would come from an honest appraisal, thought process, not some nutjob ideologically twisted mind.

As far as your question, I believe the answer would be No, there is no consciousness apart from what might arise from the physical universe. Something so many here seem to forget, or just don’t know, is that AR was a thoroughgoing hard core materialist who supported science and reason completely, and detested anything that smacked of faith, supernaturality, mysticism, etc. Science and technology to her were the pinnacle of human achievement, faith and religion (and the ‘religion’ of communism) the worst.

I left this thread for awhile, and now I went back and reread a lot. What I see is many people who (rightly IMO) utterly detest anything conservative, right wing, libertarian to the point of hatred WHO then project that hatred on AR because many of them, her so called political followers (incorrectly IMO) say she’s their intellectual hero, idol, etc.  It’s no different than if an atheist reacts with hatred towards Jesus because of the actions of Christians (and no, I’m not comparing AR to Jesus, it’s just an analogy).  Atheists should be able to discuss Jesus’s IDEAS and even be able to say, Hey that idea was good, without somehow thinking you just endorsed Christianity.  Same with AR. She has some good and interesting ideas (science is better than faith). We should be mature enough intellectually to admit she had some good ideas without feeling we just endorsed Rand Paul.

[ Edited: 17 June 2013 01:58 PM by CuthbertJ ]
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Posted: 17 June 2013 09:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 78 ]
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CuthbertJ - 17 June 2013 01:45 PM

She has some good and interesting ideas (science is better than faith). We should be mature enough intellectually to admit she had some good ideas without feeling we just endorsed Rand Paul.

Perhaps I didn’t go about it “maturely” and maybe I’m coming from an admittedly hostile predisposition, based on what (admittedly little) I’ve read by her, but in the end this thread was about a curiosity over why this person holds such fascination for so many
and a genuine desire to hear what people thought her ‘good ideas’ were.

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Posted: 18 June 2013 10:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 79 ]
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In that case, I would recommend reading Anthem for a quick idea of some of the main ideas. 

If I had to sum up the gist of AR it’d be this:
- science and reason above all,
- individual intellectual and physical freedom above all,
- AND she believed she had a logical and consist set of ideas that you couldn’t pick and choose from.

My guess would be she’d be horrified by the current crop of so-called “followers”, the Rand Paul, Paul Ryan types. These two exemplify anti-intellect, anti-reason, anti-science AND are hard-core Christians. (Ryan at least, not sure about Rand Paul).  Also I’d guess she’d be completely pro-choice, considering the Right’s notion that the government should take away a womens choice of what she does with her own body. The so-called pro-life group is a poster child for everything AR detested.

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Posted: 19 June 2013 09:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 80 ]
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I’m no expert. I read Altas a few years ago because I wanted to know what all the fuss was about. About half way through I could see where it was going, but couldn’t believe it. I found the Wallace interview, and sure enough, she was extremely selfish and thought that was an intellectually sound philosophy.

My question is, for whomever, is it not obvious from Atlas that most of the heroes inherited their wealth?

The main characters are all second generation rich aren’t they? This is never addressed. Not in the novel and not in any speeches I’ve ever heard. The unspoken statement is that the engineers, the people that claim the moochers are ruining everything are an elite class. They get to keep what they were born with and the rest of us are lazy because… I don’t know, because the ones who were born rich say we are.

That and of course the ridiculous idea that if the government just got out of the way, somebody would discover a magic engine that drew energy out of the air. The whole premise depends on this bit of magic and that really destroys the book as any sort of political statement and makes it a half-way decent bit of science fiction about a planet where greedy people believe they are pious.

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Posted: 19 June 2013 10:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 81 ]
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The rich remain rich for much longer than a few generations according to Gregory Clark’s research from last year. (If you want the link, let me know.) I don’t know if this is wrong or what—I’ll leave that up to the rest of you to decide—but it’s a fact. Can something be done about this? I doubt it. The communists tried and failed miserably.

My guess is that Rand’s ideas would never work in practice because there are simply too many poor (i.e. unproductive) people today and would quickly rebel if you take the little they have now away from them. Indeed, the Occupy movements all over the world are probably a begging of the end of the prosperous era that started with the Industrial Revolution. I think Malthus is back, and this time it’ll be with a revenge.

[ Edited: 19 June 2013 10:26 AM by George ]
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Posted: 19 June 2013 03:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 82 ]
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I was referring to characters in Atlas Shrugged, not reality. The book is set in the Industrialized Age, so by “second generation” I meant children of the first generation that benefited from that, oil, mineral and railroad millionaires. I think you’re way off on Malthus and Occupy, but I’ll leave that for another thread. Poor does not equal unproductive by the way. And rich often does not equal productive.

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Posted: 19 June 2013 04:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 83 ]
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No I think you have the characters wrong, at least the main one who is supposed to epitomize the main ideas in the book.  John Galt’s father was a car mechanic. There are some characters if I remember correctly who yes, were wealthy by inheritance, but I think they were either “the bad guys” or a flawed good guy (girl).

Regardless, at least now we’re talking about her ideas.  I’ll bet most of the folks this forum would agree with some of her ideas as I trotted them out a couple posts up.  The problem IMO is that she puts too much emphasis on individualism. Individuals are important, but what about the guy who took out the trash in the building John Galt went to school at? What about the lady at the counter who puts up with shizzit but still serves you your dinner? Or the poor schlub who helped paved the road Galt drove on to get to his building.  I.e. it DOES take a community, and to deny that is to be unrealistic and IMO dishonest.

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Posted: 19 June 2013 06:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 84 ]
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I’m thinking of Dagny Taggart and Franciso d’Anconia, two central characters. Galt doesn’t appear until pretty late. I’m not sure about Rearden, the steel guy. And some of the other guys who “retire” and disappear. Regardless, how people paid for their education or got their starts in business is rarely discussed. This perpetuates a myth of capitalism that it magically selects the right people for the right jobs. Probably something Ayn believed.

I don’t have much to say about your 3 bullet points, but will say that this last post is one of the most sensible things I’ve heard from you.

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Posted: 20 June 2013 09:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 85 ]
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Lausten - 19 June 2013 06:42 PM

I’m thinking of Dagny Taggart and Franciso d’Anconia, two central characters. Galt doesn’t appear until pretty late. I’m not sure about Rearden, the steel guy. And some of the other guys who “retire” and disappear. Regardless, how people paid for their education or got their starts in business is rarely discussed. This perpetuates a myth of capitalism that it magically selects the right people for the right jobs. Probably something Ayn believed.

I don’t have much to say about your 3 bullet points, but will say that this last post is one of the most sensible things I’ve heard from you.

Gee thanks.  As I said, one of the things I disagree with is that she seems to think individuals totally support themselves. Paying for college, ya I guess that’s one example of zillions. As for capitalism magically selecting the right person, not sure what you mean or what relevance that has.  Most capitalists would probably disagree and rather attribute it to hard work and individualism, rightly or wrongly.

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Posted: 20 June 2013 06:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 86 ]
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What I mean is, when I was in High School, I was told to study hard, then pick a major that had value and that would result in a decent job. Sounds reasonable, but it doesn’t always work that way, and it says nothing about the people who get the good jobs with neither hard work nor any talent at all, but just because of who they are and who they know. Saying that getting those jobs is a matter of hard work is the same myth of a meritocracy that I was referring to. Hiring decisions are based strongly on how well you present yourself in an interview and how well you fit with the other personalities in the office. This often includes some kind of inside network or straight out nepotism. Rarely have seen any mentoring or internal training that really works. More often the talented people just move on. Atlas Shrugged presents this as if it is a good idea and the way things should be.

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Posted: 21 June 2013 09:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 87 ]
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You’re talking about the situation as it is today. I’m sure there’s always been “it’s who you know, not what you know” to some degree, but I agree it seems rampant today more than ever. BUT, Atlas Shrugged as far as I can remember doesn’t portray this as a good thing. AR considered nepotism, even to the point of favoring your own children or parents, as bad.  That’s another reason for not liking AR…even “family” is nothing special, and in general “who you know, versus what you know” is the exact opposite of her philosophy.  Maybe you’re taking things out of context?

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Posted: 21 June 2013 01:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 88 ]
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Maybe Ayn felt that way, but it is not what happens in the book. It also is not worse “these days”, and I won’t even bother to say any more on that it is such an uninformed statement.
In Atlas, kids are given jobs by their parents and they are the ones who are wondering what the world would do without them. Not all of the main characters, but enough of them.

I saw a review on Netflix of Pt 1 of the movie that really summed it up. If it was sarcasm, it was perfectly delivered. It appeared that the movie was his first encounter with the concepts of the book. He said that he wasn’t sure who the heroes of the movie were. There were the main characters, but they were saying perfectly rude things about ordinary people who had done nothing wrong, so he couldn’t sympathize with them, and isn’t that what a movie is supposed to get you to do, sympathize with the heroes?

It was absolutely perfect. It was basically the experience I had when first reading it, except I had just a tiny bit more background knowledge.

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Posted: 21 June 2013 08:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 89 ]
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Sorry, I didn’t get notified that a question was asked. (I haven’t read all the comments—rushing to get my book publication work done.)

The statement is accurate, and actually pretty non-controversial. It means that there isn’t anything whose existence depends upon or is altered by anyone’s consciousness of it. Clearly, the chair exists whether I or anyone else sees it or not. But that applies to consciousness to: consciousness exists and is what it is whether or not anyone is self-conscious—i.e., conscious of his consciousness (introspectively).

Now we could argue whether any human being is ever completely non-self-conscious, but that isn’t the point.

As to the Objectivist position on the nature of consciousness, we hold that consciousness is natural, not supernatural, that it is part of reality, but not reducible to matter in motion (though it depends upon and is caused by matter). There is no detailed Objectivist position on the mind-brain relationship, but I could say a couple of generalized things if you want. Objectivism regards consciousness, in all conscious organisms including man, as a biological faculty with a survival function.

Have to run now. I see that “notify me via email . . .” is checked below, so maybe I’ll hear back this time.

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Posted: 30 June 2013 06:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 90 ]
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I just watched pt II of the movie last night. They really coulda wrapped it up in two parts, but there will a pt 3 next year. I’m too far away from my last reading to say how accurate the movie is, but it was done by people claiming to support Rand, so I’m assuming it is. I’d forgotten how things start to really collapse when Rearden makes an illegal deal for his steel with Dannagen, the coal guy. It is just so short sighted of Rand to see business as coal people buying steel and moving it all around on the railway. A little later Rearden even calls it “a perfect system”, until the government comes in and tries to make everything fair. Francisco also gets off a couple speeches about “value” and how money is earned by the creation of value.

What’s missing of course is the value that millions of people create every day by their labor. You don’t just sell steel to build a coal plant, you have to have people buying cars and homes to heat to drive “the engine of the world”. Maybe it just looks sillier when you try to put it in a movie format. I can’t figure out how anyone can defend this as an actual philosophy.

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