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Rebirth of Reason

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Friday, July 12 - 5:28pmSanction this postReply
Here is an introductory explanation of my philosophy:


What do you think about it from an Objectivist perspective?

I've read a lot of Rand and I still think this way. She didn't change my mind about these things. Did I miss something? Did Rand miss something? Or are our ideas compatible?

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Post 1

Friday, July 12 - 6:20pmSanction this postReply
I think there is a serious flaw in that for a person to read through your ideas, that to get to the next little snipped you either have to claim that you agree or claim that you are confused.

I'm not so worried about people making mistakes, I disagreed, and hence I had no options other than to press an invalid button or leave. I chose to leave.

Just put all your stuff on one page and allow people to mark or take notes on what they disagree or are confused on. Or split it into articles, and arrange them by dependencies & topics.

Post 2

Friday, July 12 - 6:26pmSanction this postReply
You're unwilling to read it, but decided for some reason to post anyway. Umm. OK. I don't know why you replied but here's a second chance.

And a third chance.

(Edited by Elliot Temple on 7/12, 6:27pm)

Post 3

Friday, July 12 - 7:25pmSanction this postReply
Looking at your website's homepage:

I haven't looked too far into what you mean by "common preference", but it doesn't sound like it would work in reality.

Lifeboat situation: A resource critical for two or more people is limited in supply, where there is not enough to support the population. Hence only a portion can live. If each person would rather live than any other person, then there is no common preference, and there will be a competition for the limited resource that will result in someone dieing. You could propose a game of pulling straws, or some other game, but there may be people that would rather kill than leave it up to chance or some arbitrary skill.

The common preference between a serial murderer and a father who's daughter was murdered is not calculatable. The father's only preference is for the muderer (and maybe the murderer's children) to die, while the murderer wants himself and his children to live. You speak as if we are all friends, but there are some who would like to wipe others out and have more of the world to themselves... there is no common preference between such entities.


On your method of culling ideas... just breifly reading your homepage, you are leaving out something major: We are living beings. Our time of living and thinking is limited, so time for idea generation, criticism, and accepting/rejecting is limited. Our memory capacity for storing ideas is limited. 1. Is an idea consistent with observations? 2. Is an idea useful?

On 1: Even if an idea isn't always consistent with reality, it can still be very useful when it works with great benefit sometimes and doesn't hurt when it fails. Of course if a contradiction is found, you can try to remember some of the context (if you have spare memory), and if you have the spare time, come back to it later to try to come up with a better idea.

On 2: Since memory is limited, useless ideas are forgotten. All information could conceivably have some utility, but its impossible to store all information about reality's state, and its also impossible to think/process all the info anyways. Reality is everything that currently exists and reality goes through its process of change. So ideas need to be prioritized by utility and kept or forgotten accordingly. This isn't a perfect process, its innevitable that some information will be discarded that you will later realize you wish you had saved.

The human body for example already does a lot of this automatically, its part of our design/build/architecture. Objects that move rapidly towards you or make unexpected loud noises are quickly identified and override whatever you were thinking about in order to perform fight or flight reactions.

You said that anything could be used as a criticism, and that all criticized ideas should be thrown out. This completely ignores the importance of utility.

You said that complexity or difficulty in understanding is reason to throw an idea out. For some people's occupations or work or actions, they interact with complex parts of reality. For example, human DNA is increadibly complex, but that surely doesn't mean that we should just destroy it! Genetic engineering requires storing and using very complex ideas.

Utility trumps all other constraints on whether to keep an idea. Utility is determined by whether an idea influences whether the best known plan is selected over another, and the degree by which those differring plans are expected to have on your goal attainment.

Sorry for the spelling mistakes, wrote on phone gotta go!

Post 4

Friday, July 12 - 9:10pmSanction this postReply
Dean Michael Gores,

Thanks for comments.

Rand addressed lifeboat situations in the ethics of emergencies. Not sure why you are bringing them up. Rand also said there are no rational conflicts of interests between men. Something like that. She, like me, had heard of lifeboat situations but thought that anyway.

You say that my position wouldn't work in reality and then your answer is to make up a hypothetical disaster situation completely different than daily life and you try to define into the premises that only disaster is possible to the men in the situation. And somehow that is an argument that the benevolent universe premise (as Rand calls it) is unrealistic?

Regarding people who don't want a common preference, like murderers, then defense is the right option. I don't know what you read but we're aware of bad guys. Common preferences are possible but not automatic; people have to try to achieve them. If instead someone tries not to achieve one, it's not going to happen, so then you better go your separate ways if you can, or defend yourself if necessary.

I'm aware of the time constraints of human life. Time limits are no reason to use methods that don't work, over those that do. It's not really relevant to the debate about which methods work. Unless some method was super time intensive. But critical thinking isn't particularly more or less time intensive than its rivals, and also I have writing about how you can adjust the time usage to fit your situation (which I think is also possible with its rivals, so shrug).

On 1: Even if an idea isn't always consistent with reality, it can still be very useful when it works with great benefit sometimes and doesn't hurt when it fails. Of course if a contradiction is found, you can try to remember some of the context (if you have spare memory), and if you have the spare time, come back to it later to try to come up with a better idea.

Yes we know. What you have to do is come up with an idea with no criticisms of it about how to use the refuted idea. Like you come up with the idea, "Although Newton's laws are false, that criticism only makes them get significant errors in X, Y, and Z situations. In A, B, and C situations the error is very low so it can be used when that precision is adequate". This idea has no criticisms of it. If you can't come up with an idea like this (one with no flaws), then there's no way to use the refuted idea.

(You can also look at this as an issue of criticism being contextual and you need an idea with no criticisms in the relevant context. See comments on context below.)

About forgetting ideas, I don't really get the point. Yeah some stuff gets pushed out of memory into notes or even to nowhere. So? I'm not denying limited memory. And you say to prioritize by utility. I don't think judging ideas by "utility" is a good idea; I don't think Objectivism would agree with it either. But it depends what you mean more specifically.

"You said that anything could be used as a criticism, and that all criticized ideas should be thrown out. This completely ignores the importance of utility." -- because?

"You said that complexity or difficulty in understanding is reason to throw an idea out." Like basically everything in epistemology, and as Objectivism also emphasizes, this is contextual. Criticism is contextual. How complex is a flaw is contextual what is the idea for? For some purposes, certain amounts of complexity are bad. For other purposes, greater complexity is OK.

(Edited by Elliot Temple on 7/12, 9:11pm)

Post 5

Saturday, July 13 - 10:58amSanction this postReply
Utility: I meant to say that utility is the most important constraint on whether you keep an idea in active thought, long term memory, on your noteboard, on your desktop, on your hard drive, in tape storage, in a filing cabinet, or just erase/overwrite/shred it. Having an idea closer to active thought (meaning lower latency to get it into active thought) is necessary if you want to make a decision that depends on it.

People don't really measure it, and different people have different capacities for different kinds of ideas at different times, but active memory and long term memory has capacity limits. Only so many neurons can fire or not (active memory), and only so many neural connection weightings can be set (long term memory). This is because we have a particular number of active neurons and readable/writable neural connections at any given time.


Re lifeboat: I consider myself an Objectivist because that's the closest philosophy to mine. But I don't agree with Rand/Piekoff on everything. With Rand saying "Rational men never conflict", I disagree. Its like saying "If men shared the exact same goal and didn't care about themselves but only for the best to succeed and had the exact same knowledge of the context and understanding of the world then they would always agree". But this is ridiculous. Real men have different goals, have different knowledge of the context, and different ideas on how things work. Furthermore I think a philosophy should work in lifeboat situations... it should work in all situations. Its true that from most people's perspective, life is usually not a lifeboat situation.

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Post 6

Tuesday, August 6 - 5:08amSanction this postReply
Two rational men are in boats on a pond. One wants to get from point A to point B, the other from point C to point D. Their respective courses happen to cross. They choose to make that journey at around the same time, leading to a conflict of trajectories.

What do rational men do? They navigate. They alter their course so as to avoid collisions. Why? because it is in their rational self-interest to do so. They both get to their destinations without staving in the side of their boats.

Now, the pond is the Atlantic ocean. One man is captain of a nuclear air craft carrier. The other is a man in a rowboat.

Both men are rational and have a similar conflict. What do rational men do? If the man in the rowboat is rational, he gets the fuck out of the way of the aircraft carrier. If not, he presses his right to freely navigate on open water. Either way, the captain of the carrier has little awareness of the smaller boat...unless it is one of those rubber zodiacs with a Merc on it loaded with C4. But the discussion was about conflicts between rational men.

But there is still another principle involved, a cultural/philosophical principle, and the experimeent is being run every day in the world. The AC in that situation can sail where it will with impunity...if captained by a retional man, then does it? No. It is still mindfull in port, in close proximity to other vessels. It does not make way with impunity where it will. There is a Western idea limiting actions by rational men.

Not so in the streets of places like Dhaka or Chittagong, where the only traffic laws are based on physics. I've described that here several times. Biggest vehicle goes where it will, and traffic sorts its behavior by looking out only for larger vehicles. Pure self-interest, self-preservation. A deuce-and-a-half belching dense, thick, black smoke will turn when it will, no signal, because it can. If you are in a smaller vehicle, look out, and get out of its way. And if you are a poor slob pulling a rick-shaw, run for your life and the life of your passenger. That is an alternative cultural idea, limited only by self-interest(what Rand is often accused of espousing by her detractors) but it is not the Western idea of rational behavior.

The Western idea is based on the realization that, sometimes we are in the smaller boat, so what kind of a world do we want to live in? That is also rational self-interest. Freedom based on the idea of peers living in freedom. It is rational freedom from each other that rational men seek; that is even the basis of polite freedom.


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