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Showing posts from February, 2019

Rand, the Greeks, and the ideal (kalos) man

(Image from "Kalos Kagathos: A Fine Soul in a Fine Body.")

Pursuant to my previous posting, I'll keep this brief to draw mainly one (highly important but all too neglected) connection: between Rand's conception of the ideal man and the ancient Greek concept of kalos kagathos.

In her 1963 article, "The Goal of My Writing," Rand wrote:  "The motive and purpose of my writing is the projection of an ideal man. The portrayal of a moral ideal, as my ultimate literary goal, as an end in itself--to which any didactic, intellectual or philosophical values contained in a novel are only the means."

Compare with this portion of the wikipedia article on kalos kagathos linked above:
The word was a term used in Greek when discussing the concept of aristocracy.[4] It became a fixed phrase by which the Athenian aristocracy referred to itself; in the ethical philosophers, the first of whom were Athenian gentlemen, the term came to mean the ideal or perfect man.
Compare …

Notes on dialectic

Or: An exercise in advanced differentiation and integration* 75+ hours fasted (with electrolyte water), listening to some favorite music, and cannabinized with just a couple hits of very-residual kief.  (* - "Consciousness, as a state of awareness, is not a passive state, but an active process that consists of two essentials: differentiation and integration." --Rand, ITOE, first sentence)

Also: How a dialectic between leading philosophers in history and the likes of Ayn Rand might realistically play out, given a now large and ever growing roster of prominent philosophyprofessionals now taking a serious interest in her thought.

How might Nietzsche and Rand have 'dialectized' to reach a conclusion they could agree on?  Nietzsche spoke of an 'overman', but Rand spoke more matter-of-factly of 'man the rational animal,' a position she claims to have shared in a very deep sense with Aristotle and also Aquinas.  ("The three As" Rand would call them. …

The earth going forward

In a nutshell, the earth going forward will be affected by what human beings do.  This is why the era we are entering is now dubbed the Anthropocene.  There are two major trends going on right now: (1) technological maturation and (2) Stress on the ecological system.  (When I think of ecological stresses it's not just climate change that comes to mind; I also think of the acidification of the oceans, declining insect populations and biodiversity, destruction of the coral reefs, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, antibiotic-resistant diseases, and other readily googlable troubling phenomena.)

(Also, any educated person these days should be considerably familiar with ourworldindata.org.)

In the light of exponential growth in technology which is now seeing AI or machine learning going mainstream, advances in robotics, nanotechnology on the near horizon, lab-grown meat becoming affordable around this year (which can only put some size dent in the consumption of meat grown even in organic …

Toxic social media vs. philosophy, Exhibit A

In addition to following a couple philosophy blogs regularly, I also follow the /r/badphilosophy subreddit (reddit lingo for forum), mainly for the humor value.  I'll get to the badphilosophy subreddit in a moment, but in the last few days there was a link there discussing a link on the /r/philosophy subreddit which discusses and in turn links to a blog post on the meaning of the term "selfishness," mainly in connection with Ayn Rand's usage of the term.

On reddit, the default settings sort comments by "top," as in most net upvotes, and do not display comments that receive 5 or more net downvotes.  The process of upvoting or downvoting is anonymous (and therefore unaccountable) and effortless.  (Surely you can see where I'm going with this?)  So in theory, someone can put in a lot of thought and effort into writing up a comment only to have it "buried" by downvotes, or conversely, someone can make a lazy comment that is popular with the anonymo…

Is Harvard a safe space?

It's paywalled, but an WSJ piece from a couple days ago -
Title IX’s Witness Intimidation:
(Sub-headline: 'In a culture that presumes guilt, honest testimony on behalf of the accused can carry a high price') -
outlines how a student at Harvard can face negative repercussions for daring to testify on behalf of the accused in the now-ill-reputed, Obama-mandated academic processes for adjudicating sexual-assault cases.  Tanaya Devi, a doctoral candidate in economics, has faced social shunning for doing so.  Does Harvard do anything to discourage such nastiness?  Apparently not.  Is Harvard institutionalizing dishonesty?

Also: doing a google search for "harvard wsj defend accused" yields results pertaining to Harvard's admissions policies which discriminate against Asian applicants.  (Let's face it: under any definition of racism, including the left's Newspeak version - "it's racism only if it involves a power structure" - this is racist; Harvar…

How much is an Obama endorsement worth?

(Okay, I guess I'm not totally giving up on spreading philosophy after all; I just can't resist.  But it may not be pretty from here on out, ha ha.)

Former president Barack Obama endorsed AOC in last year's mid-terms.  You can look it up.  What does an endorsement mean, exactly?  You figure it out.  But come 2020, an Obama endorsement of a Dem candidate will amount to jack shit.  He squandered his endorsement-credibility big-time, the goddamn fool.
Anyway, AOC's 'Green New Deal' [link added 2/9] is completely idiotic and immoral.  (Think of it like a Soviet 5-year plan, only 10 years this time.  Like all socialisms, it begins with "good" intentions and ambitions but turns ugly in practice, and fast.)  So much for her superior moral compass.  She's not just a dolt, she's a moral dolt.  Many people would die if it were implemented.  It couldn't be implemented, just as pure socialism could never be implemented.  The closest that anyone tried wa…

Why don't people learn? Why bother?

My blogging over the past couple months has been magisterial but has had next to zero impact despite various efforts to promote it in various different online venues.  Even philosophy for children, an obvious no-brainer to anyone who takes a good look at the research, meets inertia (or even, in some cases, refusal to take a good look at the research).  All while a shitshow of culpable dysfunction streams across my data sources on a daily, hourly basis.  It has made me angry, frustrated and discouraged to say the least.  (Evidently I don't possess the wisdom....)

This all got me to thinking, and I realized . . .

Plato wrote his Republic, Aristotle created his monumental body of work, and Jesus delivered a message of love over three thousand years ago.  The materials have been available all this time, and yet people have only managed to partly get their act together in all that time.  The Republic has a pretty simple message - that philosophy or love of wisdom can transform people'…

In the queue: Trump's alleged racism and...

Fresh off the digital presses, copypasting from an email (with a few key weblinks added and text additions in brackets):

I now have in my head for the blogging queue the subject of whether Trump is a racist. I'd indicated in a previous couple blog posts that the evidence supports a low to medium probability that he is a racist. The only good piece of evidence that I know of is the policy of his housing company in the early '70s that got him in legal jeopardy. (Question: Is someone who engages in racial discrimination for monetary/business reasons thereby a racist? What if that's the only solid data point we have to go on and it's nearly 50 years old?  [Nevertheless, this piece of evidence has the virtue of being evidence of something he did, not just of what he said, where Dems have applied the policy of assuming worst.]) The other data points that the Democrats use only serve to support my claim that the Democrats are an intellectual basket case - or, that the evi…