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Thursday, December 31, 2015

Evil is not consistent and does not want to be consistent

"Evil is not consistent and does not want to be consistent. What it wants is to inject itself into the life-sustaining process sometimes—short-range, out-of-context, at whim. To achieve this end, it needs only a single concession by the good: a concession of the principle involved, a concession that evil is proper “sometimes.” such a compromise is evil’s charter of liberty. Thereafter the irrational is free to set the terms and spread by further whim, until the good—and man—is destroyed."

~ Dr Leonard Peikoff in the essay 'Virtue', in 'Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand'

Must Watch: Climatologist Breaks the Silence on Global Warming Groupthink

Tim Minchin's Storm the Animated Movie

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Springer have made a bunch of books available for free, here are the direct links

Objectivist position in three words

"The Objectivist position can be indicated in three words. The ultimate value is life. The primary virtue is rationality. The proper beneficiary is oneself."

~ Dr. Leonard Peikoff in essay "Good" in "Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand"

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Who are the Rightists?

"Since, today, there are no clear definitions of political terms, I use the word “rightist” to denote the views of those who are predominantly in favor of individual freedom and capitalism—and the word “leftist” to denote the views of those who are predominantly in favor of government controls and socialism. As to the middle or “center,” I take it to mean “zero,” i.e., no dominant position, i.e., a pendulum swinging from side to side, moment by moment."

~ Ayn Rand in the essay “The Disfranchisement of the Right”

Saturday, December 26, 2015

If (by Rudyard Kipling)

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on”;

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings – nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run –
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man my son!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

On Mysticism & Skepticism

"If mysticism advocates the promiscuous acceptance of ideas, skepticism advocates their promiscuous doubt. The mystic “just knows” whatever he wants to believe; the skeptic “just doesn't know” whatever he wants not to believe. The operative term and guiding force here is “wants,” i.e., feeling. Both viewpoints reduce to emotionalism; both represent the reliance on feeling as a cognitive guide. Both represent a denial of man’s need of logic and an enshrinement of the arbitrary."

~ Dr. Leonard Peikoff in OPAR (Essay on Reason)

Monday, December 21, 2015

Thinking by Walter D. Wintle

If you think you are beaten, you are
If you think you dare not, you don’t
If you like to win, but think you can’t
It’s almost certain you won’t.

If you think you’ll lose, you’re lost
For out of the world we find
Success begins with a fellow’s will
It’s all in the state of mind.

If you think you are outclassed, you are
You’ve got to think high to rise
You’ve got to be sure of yourself before
You can ever win a prize.

Life’s battles don’t always go
To the stronger or faster man
But soon or late the person who wins
Is the one who thinks “I can.”

Sunday, December 20, 2015

High cost of freebies...

"Lots of things were free in the USSR. Sooner or later, nothing costs society as much as things that are free." ~ Garry Kasparov

Friday, December 18, 2015

What is Meritocracy?

“Meritocracy” is an old anti-concept and one of the most contemptible package deals. By means of nothing more than its last five letters, that word obliterates the difference between mind and force: it equates the men of ability with political rulers, and the power of their creative achievements with political power. There is no difference, the word suggests, between freedom and tyranny: an “aristocracy” is tyranny by a politically established elite, a “democracy” is tyranny by the majority—and when a government protects individual rights, the result is tyranny by talent or “merit” (and since “to merit” means “to deserve,” a free society is ruled by the tyranny of justice).

~ Ayn Rand in Philosophy Who Needs It

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Unscrambling the Rubik's Cube


Quotes that make your day

A member of Parliament to Disraeli: “Sir, you will either die on the gallows or of some unspeakable disease."
"That depends, Sir, "said Disraeli, “whether I embrace your policies or your mistress."

"He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire."
- Winston Churchill

"I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure."
-Clarence Darrow

"He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary."
-William Faulkner (about Ernest Hemingway)

"Thank you for sending me a copy of your book; I'll waste no time reading it."
-Moses Hades

"I didn't attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it."
-Mark Twain

"He has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his friends."
-Oscar Wilde

"I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play; bring a friend, if you have one."
-George Bernard Shaw to Winston Churchill

"Cannot possibly attend first night, will attend second... if there is one."
-Winston Churchill, in response

"I feel so miserable without you; it's almost like having you here."
- Stephen Bishop

"He is a self-made man and worships his creator."
- John Bright

"I've just learned about his illness. Let's hope it's nothing trivial."
- Irvin S. Cobb

"He is not only dull himself; he is the cause of dullness in others."
- Samuel Johnson

"He is simply a shiver looking for a spine to run up."
- Paul Keating

"In order to avoid being called a flirt, she always yielded easily."
- Charles, Count Talleyrand

"He loves nature in spite of what it did to him."
- Forrest Tucker

"Why do you sit there looking like an envelope without any address on it?"
- Mark Twain

"His mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork."
- Mae West

"Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go."
- Oscar Wilde

"He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts... for support rather than illumination."
- Andrew Lang (1844-1912)

"He has Van Gogh's ear for music."
- Billy Wilder

"I've had a perfectly wonderful evening. But I'm afraid this wasn't it."
- Groucho Marx

Monday, December 14, 2015

Peikoff on Existentialism

"…the Existentialism of the fifties and the sixties, held that reality is absurd and that irrational passion is the only means of knowledge. In such a world, said Sartre, man is the controller of his destiny, except that he cannot control it because his mind is helpless; so freedom is a “curse,” and man’s fate is fear, trembling, nausea—from which there s “no exit,” since thought is self-deception, system-building is self-deception, a rational ethics is self-deception. All one can do, therefore, is make a blind, activist commitment to some course, or join the Zen Buddhists in merging with a superior dimension, or praise Fidel Castro as the hero of the century, or do something else, anything else, whatever anyone chooses to feel. This is what Existentialists describe as “individualism.”

~ Dr Leonard Peikoff (The Ominous Parallels)

Feminist worldview...


Sunday, December 13, 2015

A summation of leftist philosophy...

These lines from Atlas Shrugged (spoken by the villain character called Dr. Floyd Ferris) adequately sum up the leftist philosophy:

"Thought is a primitive superstition. Reason is an irrational idea. The childish notion that we are able to think has been mankind's costliest error."

"What you think you think is an illusion created by your glands, your emotions and, in the last analysis, by the content of your stomach."

"That gray matter you're so proud of is like a mirror in an amusement park which transmits to you nothing but distorted signals from a reality forever beyond your grasp."

"The more certain you feel of your rational conclusions, the more certain you are to be wrong. Your brain being an instrument of distortion, the more active the brain the greater the distortion."

"The giants of the intellect, whom you admire so much, once taught you that the earth was flat and that the atom was the smallest particle of matter. The entire history of science is a progression of exploded fallacies, not of achievements."

"The more we know, the more we learn that we know nothing."

"Only the crassest ignoramus can still hold to the old-fashioned notion that seeing is believing. That which you see is the first thing to disbelieve."

"A scientist knows that a stone is not a stone at all. It is, in fact, identical with a feather pillow. Both are only a cloud formation of the same invisible, whirling particles. But, you say, you can't use a stone for a pillow? Well, that merely proves your helplessness in the face of actual reality."

"The latest scientific discoveries—such as the tremendous achievements of Dr. Robert Stadler—have demonstrated conclusively that our reason is incapable of dealing with the nature of the universe. These discoveries have led scientists to contradictions which are impossible, according to the human mind, but which exist in reality nonetheless. If you have not yet heard it, my dear old-fashioned friends, it has now been proved that the rational is the insane."

"Do not expect consistency. Everything is a contradiction of everything else. Nothing exists but contradictions."

"Do not look for 'common sense.' To demand 'sense' is the hallmark of nonsense. Nature does not make sense. Nothing makes sense. The only crusaders for 'sense' are the studious type of adolescent old maid who can't find a boy friend, and the old-fashioned shopkeeper who thinks that the universe is as simple as his neat little inventory and beloved cash register."

"Let us break the chains of the prejudice called Logic. Are we going to be stopped by a syllogism?"

"So you think you're sure of your opinions? You cannot be sure of anything. Are you going to endanger the harmony of your community, your fellowship with your neighbors, your standing, reputation, good name and financial security—for the sake of an illusion? For the sake of the mirage of thinking that you think? Are you going to run risks and court disasters—at a precarious time like ours—by opposing the existing social order in the name of those imaginary notions of yours which you call your convictions? You say that you're sure you're right? Nobody is right, or ever can be. You feel that the world around you is wrong? You have no means to know it."

"Everything is wrong in human eyes—so why fight it? Don't argue. Accept. Adjust yourself. Obey."

Springtime for Hitler

Friday, December 11, 2015

A Man For All Seasons - Giving the Devil the Benefit of Law

Orwell on Doublethink

George Orwell created the word doublethink in his novel Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984). This is what doublethink means according to the novel:

DOUBLETHINK means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them. The Party intellectual knows in which direction his memories must be altered; he therefore knows that he is playing tricks with reality; but by the exercise of DOUBLETHINK he also satisfies himself that reality is not violated. The process has to be conscious, or it would not be carried out with sufficient precision, but it also has to be unconscious, or it would bring with it a feeling of falsity and hence of guilt. DOUBLETHINK lies at the very heart of Ingsoc, since the essential act of the Party is to use conscious deception while retaining the firmness of purpose that goes with complete honesty. To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies — all this is indispensably necessary. Even in using the word DOUBLETHINK it is necessary to exercise DOUBLETHINK. For by using the word one admits that one is tampering with reality; by a fresh act of DOUBLETHINK one erases this knowledge; and so on indefinitely, with the lie always one leap ahead of the truth. Ultimately it is by means of DOUBLETHINK that the Party has been able — and may, for all we know, continue to be able for thousands of years — to arrest the course of history.

All past oligarchies have fallen from power either because they ossified or because they grew soft. Either they became stupid and arrogant, failed to adjust themselves to changing circumstances, and were overthrown; or they became liberal and cowardly, made concessions when they should have used force, and once again were overthrown. They fell, that is to say, either through consciousness or through unconsciousness. It is the achievement of the Party to have produced a system of thought in which both conditions can exist simultaneously. And upon no other intellectual basis could the dominion of the Party be made permanent. If one is to rule, and to continue ruling, one must be able to dislocate the sense of reality. For the secret of rulership is to combine a belief in one’s own infallibility with the Power to learn from past mistakes.

It need hardly be said that the subtlest practitioners of DOUBLETHINK are those who invented DOUBLETHINK and know that it is a vast system of mental cheating. In our society, those who have the best knowledge of what is happening are also those who are furthest from seeing the world as it is. In general, the greater the understanding, the greater the delusion; the more intelligent, the less sane. One clear illustration of this is the fact that war hysteria increases in intensity as one rises in the social scale. Those whose attitude towards the war is most nearly rational are the subject peoples of the disputed territories. To these people the war is simply a continuous calamity which sweeps to and fro over their bodies like a tidal wave. Which side is winning is a matter of complete indifference to them. They are aware that a change of overlordship means simply that they will be doing the same work as before for new masters who treat them in the same manner as the old ones. The slightly more favoured workers whom we call ‘the proles’ are only intermittently conscious of the war. When it is necessary they can be prodded into frenzies of fear and hatred, but when left to themselves they are capable of forgetting for long periods that the war is happening. It is in the ranks of the Party, and above all of the Inner Party, that the true war enthusiasm is found. World-conquest is believed in most firmly by those who know it to be impossible. This peculiar linking-together of opposites — knowledge with ignorance, cynicism with fanaticism — is one of the chief distinguishing marks of Oceanic society. The official ideology abounds with contradictions even when there is no practical reason for them. Thus, the Party rejects and vilifies every principle for which the Socialist movement originally stood, and it chooses to do this in the name of Socialism. It preaches a contempt for the working class unexampled for centuries past, and it dresses its members in a uniform which was at one time peculiar to manual workers and was adopted for that reason. It systematically undermines the solidarity of the family, and it calls its leader by a name which is a direct appeal to the sentiment of family loyalty. Even the names of the four Ministries by which we are governed exhibit a sort of impudence in their deliberate reversal of the facts. The Ministry of Peace concerns itself with war, the Ministry of Truth with lies, the Ministry of Love with torture and the Ministry of Plenty with starvation. These contradictions are not accidental, nor do they result from ordinary hypocrisy; they are deliberate exercises in DOUBLETHINK. For it is only by reconciling contradictions that power can be retained indefinitely. In no other way could the ancient cycle be broken. If human equality is to be for ever averted — if the High, as we have called them, are to keep their places permanently — then the prevailing mental condition must be controlled insanity.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Historic Rocket Landing

The Unmindful

“Those unmindful when they hear, for all they make of their intelligence, may be regarded as the walking dead.” ~ Heraclitus

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Call it the universe... an Apollo astronaut

“When the sunlight shines through the blackness of space it’s black, but I was in sunlight and I was able to look at this blackness! And what are you looking at? Call it the universe, but it’s the infinity of space and the infinity of time. I’m looking at something called space that had no end and at time that has no meaning. You can really focus on it because you’ve got this planet out there, this star called Earth, which itself is in this blackness, but it is lit up because the sunlight strikes on an object, strikes on something called Earth. And it’s not a hostile blackness. Maybe it’s not hostile because of the beauty of the Earth that sort of gives it light.” ~ an Apollo astronaut

Nietzsche - on the echo of the newspapers

"Our age is an agitate one, and precisely for that reason, not an age of passion; it heats itself up continuously, because it feels that it is not warm -- basically it is freezing.... In our time it is merely by means of an echo that events acquire their `greatness' -- the echo of the newspapers”

~ Nietzsche, 1882

Monday, December 7, 2015

Isochronic Map

This map published in 1914 is colored to indicate the amount of time it takes to reach these different locations when beginning in England.


Source: Cato Institute

The Matrix Lobby Scene High Quality

Sunday, December 6, 2015

"Let the meaning choose the word, and not the other way around." ~ Orwell

Politics and the English Language

George Orwell (1946) 

Most people who bother with the matter at all would admit that the English language is in a bad way, but it is generally assumed that we cannot by conscious action do anything about it. Our civilization is decadent and our language -- so the argument runs -- must inevitably share in the general collapse. It follows that any struggle against the abuse of language is a sentimental archaism, like preferring candles to electric light or hansom cabs to aeroplanes. Underneath this lies the half-conscious belief that language is a natural growth and not an instrument which we shape for our own purposes.

Now, it is clear that the decline of a language must ultimately have political and economic causes: it is not due simply to the bad influence of this or that individual writer. But an effect can become a cause, reinforcing the original cause and producing the same effect in an intensified form, and so on indefinitely. A man may take to drink because he feels himself to be a failure, and then fail all the more completely because he drinks. It is rather the same thing that is happening to the English language. It becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts. The point is that the process is reversible. Modern English, especially written English, is full of bad habits which spread by imitation and which can be avoided if one is willing to take the necessary trouble. If one gets rid of these habits one can think more clearly, and to think clearly is a necessary first step toward political regeneration: so that the fight against bad English is not frivolous and is not the exclusive concern of professional writers. I will come back to this presently, and I hope that by that time the meaning of what I have said here will have become clearer. Meanwhile, here are five specimens of the English language as it is now habitually written.

In age of Google, you don't need to climb the mountain...


Forgotten Thinkers: Cicero

Saturday, December 5, 2015

What caused Bhopal gas tragedy?

The estimated death toll from the 1984 Bhopal disaster is about 15,000 people. But what caused the tragedy? This is excerpt from Robert James Bidinotto's essay, "Bhopal: The Fruit of Industrial Policy," July 19, 1985:

'Not all of the many multinationals in India were willing to tolerate such exploitation (and that is, for once, the perfect word). Under pressure to transfer control to Indians, IBM and Coca-Cola, for instance, left the country in the late 1970s rather than relinquish their independence.

'But Union Carbide India, Ltd., which had been operating in India for decades, chose to remain. . . .

'As many of the most skilled and experienced workers saw the handwriting on the wall and left, local management replaced them with less skilled novices. MIC operator positions, which had once required college science degrees, were filled by high school graduates. Managers used to working with MIC were replaced by less qualified people, sometimes from Carbide's low-technology battery factories. Meanwhile, outright incompetence was legally protected: Indian law forbids the firing of workers, except for very serious infractions. The factory, following the pattern of socialized nations everywhere, was experiencing a "brain drain."

'Until 1982, U.S. supervisory and training personnel were still at the plant. But under Indian law, those Americans were licensed for fixed periods and had to leave once their Indian replacements were trained. At this point, Carbide visits to the site all but ended, and headquarters relied mainly on reports issued from Bhopal.

In June 1982, representatives from U.S. headquarters did conduct one final safety inspection, based upon which they filed a critical report. But safety was now the responsibility of local management.'

The article ends with these lines:

'After tea, Suman Dey noticed that the temperature gauge for tank 610 had climbed off the top of the scale, and that the pressure gauge was rising toward 40 p.s.i., at which point an emergency relief valve burst. . . . "There was a tremendous sound, a messy boiling sound, underneath the slab," he recalled. The slab began to shake, and Dey ran. There was a loud noise behind him, and a giant crack appeared in the concrete. There came a blast of intense heat. When he heard the loud hissing sound, he looked up and saw huge amounts of MIC gas billowing out of the pipe 120 feet above the tank. Like an ominous white specter, it began to drift away from the plant.

'It was the toxic waste of industrial policy.

'Years before, these had condensed as acidic downpourings of laws and regulations, stifling and smothering business enterprise.

'Years before, those responsible could have spared the people of Bhopal.

'By 12:45 a.m. on December 3, 1984, it was too late. . . .'

Source: The Intellectual Activist (Vol. 4, No. 2)

Friday, December 4, 2015

Nicolas Maduro threatens Venezuelans before elections


The choice is clear: Thug Socialism v. Freedom and Prosperity

Why did some nations develop, while others did not?

“If concern for human poverty and suffering were one’s primary motive, one would seek to discover their cause. One would not fail to ask: Why did some nations develop, while others did not? Why have some nations achieved material abundance, while others have remained stagnant in subhuman misery? History and, specifically, the unprecedented prosperity-explosion of the nineteenth century, would give an immediate answer: capitalism is the only system that enables men to produce abundance—and the key to capitalism is individual freedom.” ~ Ayn Rand in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal

Thursday, December 3, 2015

In Defense of Ayn Rand - Freedomain Radio Sunday Show

Smart thinking....


St. Thomas Aquinas on whether sinners should be killed or heretics tolerated

[In the excerpts below from Summa Theologica (written 1265-1274), St. Thomas Aquinas takes up two questions: Whether it is lawful to kill sinners? and Whether heretics ought to be tolerated? A PDF version of this text is here.]

Whether it is lawful to kill sinners?

Objection 1. It would seem unlawful to kill men who have sinned. For our Lord in the parable (Mt. 13) forbade the uprooting of the cockle which denotes wicked men according to a gloss. Now whatever is forbidden by God is a sin. Therefore it is a sin to kill a sinner.

Objection 2. Further, human justice is conformed to Divine justice. Now according to Divine justice sinners are kept back for repentance, according to Ezech. 33:11, “I desire not the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live.” Therefore it seems altogether unjust to kill sinners.

Objection 3. Further, it is not lawful, for any good end whatever, to do that which is evil in itself, according to Augustine (Contra Mendac. vii) and the Philosopher (Ethic. ii, 6). Now to kill a man is evil in itself, since we are bound to have charity towards all men, and “we wish our friends to live and to exist,” according to Ethic. ix, 4. Therefore it is nowise lawful to kill a man who has sinned.

On the contrary, It is written (Ex. 22:18): “Wizards thou shalt not suffer to live”; and (Ps. 100:8): “In the morning I put to death all the wicked of the land.”

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The Ritual of Climate Talks


Are we Wrongfully Interpreting Quantum Mechanics

At the Solvay conference, Einstein objected to a probabilistic universe, quipping, “God does not play dice,” but he seemed ambivalent about de Broglie’s alternative. Bohr told Einstein to “stop telling God what to do,” and (for reasons that remain in dispute) he won the day. By 1932, when the Hungarian-American mathematician John von Neumann claimed to have proven that the probabilistic wave equation in quantum mechanics could have no “hidden variables” (that is, missing components, such as de Broglie’s particle with its well-defined trajectory), pilot-wave theory was so poorly regarded that most physicists believed von Neumann’s proof without even reading a translation.

Source

Monday, November 30, 2015

Beer for philosophers...


Sadly the Belgian brewery no longer produces this particular brand of beer.

Orwell on Symbols of Democracy...

"That rifle on the wall of the labourer's cottage or working man's flat is the symbol of democracy." ~ George Orwell

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Landmark decision...


Difference between the right word and the almost right word...

"You were given the choice between war and dishonor.  You chose dishonor, and you will have war." ~ Churchill to Chamberlain after Munich, 1938

"The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug." ~ Mark Twain

Saturday, November 28, 2015

The Pilgrims and Property Rights: How our ancestors got fat & happy

Soul Machine: The Invention of the Modern Mind by George Makari

Excerpt from George Makari's, "Soul Machine: The Invention of the Modern Mind"
After his triumphant return to London, John Locke’s theory of the mind gradually spread, as did his views on the processes of thought, consciousness, delusion, and the capacity of reason to control man’s passions. Along with Francis Bacon and Isaac Newton, Locke became synonymous with the progressive advances of English culture.
Throughout Western Europe, Locke’s thought moved quickly throughout literary and philosophical circles, where its political implications were not missed. A swarm of French refugees, often trained in Protestant seminaries to reject divine right and employ private conscience, embraced Locke’s model of consciousness with its justification of inner difference. The French Huguenot exile Pierre Coste became Locke’s interpreter and French translator, and through Coste’s efforts the Essayspread throughout the continent.
Locke’s theories of the mind would become part of the curricula of universities, often finding a home among those who taught and studied logic. It also would be enshrined in those warehouses of learning, the Enlightenment dictionary and encyclopedia. In his seminal Historical and Critical Dictionary, the exiled Huguenot Pierre Bayle traced a line of thought from Thomas Willis’s animal soul to Locke’s thinking matter to an anonymous freethinker who considered humans to be no different than brutes. The 1747 Biographia britannica lavished seventeen pages of small type on the “celebrated” philosopher’s life and thought. Denis Diderot and Jean d’Alembert in their great Encyclopedia included a lengthy section on Locke, as did Johann Zedler’s German Universal-Lexicon. And in his famed Dictionary, Samuel Johnson turned to Locke’s authority 138 times. Johnson’s definition of madness as a disorderly jumble of ideas neatly followed Locke’s.
As this naturalized notion of the mind began to spread, some sought to push aside the paradoxes of God-given thinking matter and map out a fully natural model. In 1729, Ephraim Chambers’s Cyclopaedia defined psychology as “a Discourse Concerning the Soul” which was not a part of theology, but anthropology. In 1740, the Scotsman George Turnbull announced that he would study the human mind precisely as he studied the human body. When the Encyclopaedia Britannica emerged from Edinburgh, though it defined the mind as akin to spirit, the opposite of matter, it also allowed that the mind was now explored in the science of logic and morals, naturalistic inquiries that owed much to Locke.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Charlie Brown and Existentialism

Vanity Fair has published an article on Peanuts and Existentialism.

It is not an accident that Eichmann was a Kantian ~ Ayn Rand

"If a man believes that the good is intrinsic in certain actions, he will not hesitate to force others to perform them. If he believes that the human benefit or injury caused by such actions is of no significance, he will regard a sea of blood as of no significance. If he believes that the beneficiaries of such actions are irrelevant (or interchangeable), he will regard wholesale slaughter as his moral duty in the service of a “higher” good. It is the intrinsic theory of values that produces a Robespierre, a Lenin, a Stalin, or a Hitler. It is not an accident that Eichmann was a Kantian." ~ Ayn Rand (Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal)

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Economy is idealism in its most practical form...

"I favor the policy of economy, not because I wish to save money, but because I wish to save people. The men and women of this country who toil are the ones who bear the cost of the Government. Every dollar that we carelessly waste means that their life will be so much the more meager. Every dollar that we prudently save means that their life will be so much the more abundant. Economy is idealism in its most practical form.” ~ Calvin Coolidge (Inaugural Address, 1925)

Saturday, November 21, 2015

It's One Word..


Jefferson on Newspapers

"The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but newspapers." 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Ian Fleming's James Bond is Anti-communist

Bond represents the individual spirit that is cultivated by the West against the communist idea of the regnant collective. Under communism, individuals were reduced to a product of their time and place on the continuum of material progress. In a study published in 1964 entitled “The Soviet Conception of Man,” professor Richard T. DeGeorge writes, “Under the Soviet view, there is no eternal essence or common nature which each individual man in the past, present, and future shares or has.” Instead, the Soviet conception of the individual is that it is created and exists only by and through the state and society. Any conception of individuality arises as a product of “self-consciousness on the part of the exploiting minority who were separated from and stood above the masses.” Thus, the only way an individual was able to change the world was to properly and completely submit to the State—which was embodied by the Party. In The Opium of the Intellectuals, Raymond Aron notes: “the aspiring communist gives his allegiance to the Party because the Party represents the class which has been elected to the role of collective saviour.”

An individual like Bond who thwarted communist schemes and plots without the Party or the collective was Fleming’s answer to Marx. As Bond demonstrated, an individual could accomplish great things and change—or save—the world. Of particular interest is that Bond describes himself as being deep down a “Scottish peasant” in The Man with the Golden Gun. A peasant, according to Soviet logic, was part of the anointed class and as such, Bond should have sympathized with communist doctrine. Instead, Fleming had him smash it wherever he found it.

Before the movies had Bond chasing international crime syndicates and henchmen with elaborate schemes for world domination, the novels had him hunting down the very real threat of communism across the globe. It’s obvious that both Fleming and Bond were committed to destroying communism and its “cruel machine” of spies and saboteurs, and although the KGB and Soviet Union are no longer threats, communism still exists and oppresses millions throughout the world. With the release of each new film, the world should never forget the lessons from Fleming’s original cold warrior who fought to save the world from tyranny and oppression. For Fleming, one person could change the world, and Bond has always been the fictionalized personification of those who were changing it one covert battle at a time.

Source

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Quotes from Margaret Thatcher

“I wasn’t lucky. I deserved it.”

"You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.”

"There is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women and there are families."

“I am in politics because of the conflict between good and evil, and I believe that in the end good will triumph.”

“Standing in the middle of the road is very dangerous; you get knocked down by the traffic from both sides."

“Europe will never be like America. Europe is a product of history. America is a product of philosophy.”

Sunday, November 15, 2015

John Allison - Ayn Rand

The Failure of the Homeland Defense: Lessons from History



With the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, America has accepted a permanent, institutionalized state of siege on its own soil. But is this the correct strategy? In this lecture, Dr. John Lewis examines several examples from history — including ancient Greece and ancient Rome — in which great nations, facing attack, have acted defensively rather than with bold offense. The results are clear: such a policy is suicidal. Rather than bracing for further attacks at home or spreading “democracy” abroad, America should destroy her enemies.

The reason behind the hammer and sickle symbol

There is a reason why, for 100 years, the communist symbol is hammer and sickle. "We want you to keep using these tools!"

Saturday, November 14, 2015

We the People' tell the government what to do - Reagan

"Ours was the first revolution in the history of mankind that truly reversed the course of government, and with three little words: 'We the People.' 'We the People' tell the government what to do; it doesn't tell us. 'We the People' are the driver; the government is the car. And we decide where it should go, and by what route, and how fast. Almost all the world's constitutions are documents in which governments tell the people what their privileges are. Our Constitution is a document in which 'We the People' tell the government what it is allowed to do. 'We the People' are free. This belief has been the underlying basis for everything I've tried to do these past 8 years." ~ Ronald Reagan (in his Farewell Speech, 1988)

Source

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Modern Educayshun



The follow up to #Equality, Modern Educayshun delves into the potential dangers of our increasingly reactionary culture bred by social media and political correctness.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

How To Brainwash A Nation



This amazing interview was done back in 1985 with a former KGB agent who was trained in subversion techniques. He explains the 4 basic steps to socially engineering entire generations into thinking and behaving the way those in power want them to.

Ayn Rand on the anti-conceptual mentality

“As an example of the principle that the rational is the moral, observe that the anti-conceptual is the profoundly anti-moral. The basic commandment of [anti-conceptual] groups, which takes precedence over any other rules, is: loyalty to the group—not to ideas, but to people; not to the group's beliefs, which are minimal and chiefly ritualistic, but to the group's members and leaders. Whether a given member is right or wrong, the others must protect him from outsiders; whether he is innocent or guilty, the others must stand by him against outsiders; whether he is competent or not, the others must employ him or trade with him in preference to outsiders. Thus a physical qualification—the accident of birth in a given village or tribe—takes precedence over morality and justice. (But the physical is only the most frequently apparent and superficial qualification, since such groups reject the nonconforming children of their own members. The actual qualification is psycho-epistemological: men bound by the same concretes.)

“Primitive tribes are an obvious example of the anti-conceptual mentality—perhaps, with some justification: savages, like children, are on the preconceptual level of development. Their later counterparts, however, demonstrate that this mentality is not the product of ignorance (nor is it caused by lack of intelligence): it is self-made, i.e., self-arrested. It has resisted the rise of civilization and has manifested itself in countless forms throughout history. Its symptom is always an attempt to circumvent reality by substituting men for ideas, the man-made for the metaphysical, favors for rights, special pull for merit—i.e., an attempt to reduce man’s life to a small back-yard (or rat hole) exempt from the absolutism of reason. (The driving motive of these attempts is deeper than power-lust: the rulers of such groups seek protection from reality as anxiously as the followers.)” 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Ronald Reagan: On Communism

How do you tell a communist? Well, it's someone who reads Marx and Lenin. And how do you tell an anti-communist? It's someone who understands Marx and Lenin.

 I believe that communism is another sad, bizarre chapter in human history whose last pages even now are being written.

The other day someone told me the difference between a democracy and a people's democracy. It's the same difference between a jacket and a straitjacket.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

A Review of George Reisman’s “Capitalism: A Treatise on Economics” by Per-Olof Samuelsson

This is a slightly expanded version of a review Per-Olof Samuelsson submitted to Amazon a few years ago. This review seems to be appreciated by readers, and it was much appreciated by Dr. Reisman himself, who suggested that he make this expanded version for possible publication. 
George Reisman’s Capitalism: A Treatise on Economics is perhaps the greatest treatise on economics of all time; it certainly ranks with such works as Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations or Ludwig von Mises’ Human Action; and in one respect I think it surpasses them: even the great pro-capitalist economists in the past have had contradictions and/or inconsistencies in their reasoning that undercut their message and make it weaker than it could and should be. If there are contradictions or inconsistencies in Reisman’s treatise, I have yet to find them.
An achievement of this kind is always an integrated whole. But if I were to single out one insight as the greatest one, it would be the “primacy of profits” principle, the insight that wages are a deduction from profits, not vice versa. This lays the ground for the most thorough and fundamental refutation of the Marxian exploitation theory that is possible; it also lays the ground for what actually constitutes economy-wide profit (the “net consumption” theory of profits) and the actual relationships between profits, wages and investment, and for many other things as well. To make a comparison, I think this discovery ranks with Adam Smith’s original discovery of the principle of division of labor, or the early Austrians’ discovery of marginal utility. I sincerely hope that this principle gets thoroughly understood by economists in the future.
Some other highlights I could mention merely because I have not seen them mentioned by other reviewers:
The demonstration that the rise in the average standard of living rests entirely on lower prices for goods and services. This fact is obscured by the presence of inflation, and other economists (notably the Keynesians) have managed to create a lot of fog around this issue. Reisman’s analysis completely dissolves the fog. And this point also has a positive corollary. The only thing that actually does raise the average standard of living is a rise in the productivity of labor; behind such a rise stand saving, technological progress and capital accumulation; and behind these stands man’s reasoning mind.
Understanding the extent of the gulf between a pre-capitalist, non-division of labor society and a modern division of labor society. (E.g.: understanding why a rise in population would be a threat in the former kind of society, but a source of great benefit in the latter kind.)
The demonstration that one of the things capitalism is regularly denounced for – the concentration of great fortunes in relatively few hands – is actually to the benefit of everybody, not merely the owners of those fortunes.
The demonstration of what is wrong with modern “national income accounting”. To make a long story short, the “modern” accounting method makes it look like almost all expenditure in the economy is consumption expenditure, while the truth is that most expenditure in a modern advanced economy is expenditure for the sake of further production.
And those are just a few of the highlights.
Capitalism is not always easy reading, and a beginner would be well advised to start with The Government Against the Economy (the whole of this book, however, is incorporated into Capitalism as chapters 6–8), or with some of Reisman’s shorter pamphlets (or with one of Reisman’s own favorites, Henry Hazlitt’s Economics in One Lesson). Some previous knowledge of Classical and Austrian economics is a great help. But, particularly in the first chapters, dealing with the role of material wealth in man’s life, there are passages that made me cheer aloud when I first read them, and possibly others will cheer aloud, too. (One such observation is that we value automobiles and other means of transportation for basically the same reason that we value having legs over not having legs.)
As is probably known, George Reisman was not only a student of Ludwig von Mises but also a student of Ayn Rand, and her influence permeates his book in more ways than I have space to tell. You may recall that one of the strikers in Atlas Shrugged was “a professor of economics who couldn’t get a job outside, because he taught that you can’t consume more than you have produced”. Well, this is what George Reisman teaches, for a thousand double-column pages and better than anyone has done before him.
PS: Reisman’s words of appreciation are worth quoting:
I believe that my treatment of the subject of profit is the most important and original fea­ture of the book and that the reversal of the Marxist view of the relationship between pro­fits and wages is one of the most important appli­cations of my theory of profit. Those are pre­cisely the points your review stresses. So I come away from your review with the very gratifying feeling that here at last is someone who really understands the book and has hit the nail on the head in reviewing it.
Source 

Friday, November 6, 2015

Earth Is An Oil-Producing Machine — We're Not Running Out

Ever since M. King Hubbert in the 1950s convinced a lot of people with his "peak oil" theory that production would collapse and we'd eventually exhaust our crude supplies, the clock has been running. And running. And it will continue to run for some time, as technology and new discoveries show that there's still an ocean of oil under our feet.

Engineering and Technology says "with the use of the innovative technologies, available fossil fuel resources could increase from the current 2.9 trillion barrels of oil equivalent to 4.8 trillion by 2050, which is almost twice as much as the projected global demand." That number could even reach 7.5 trillion barrels if technology and exploration techniques advance even faster.

This information backs up the idea that Earth is actually an oil-producing machine. We call energy sources such as crude oil and natural gas fossil fuels based on the assumption that they are the products of decaying organisms, maybe even dinosaurs themselves. But the label is a misnomer. Research from the last decade found that hydrocarbons are synthesized abiotically.

In other words, as Science magazine has reported, the "data imply that hydrocarbons are produced chemically" from carbon found in Earth's mantle. Nature magazine calls the product of this process an "unexpected bounty " of "natural gas and the building blocks of oil products.”

So don't feel guilty about exploiting this "bounty." There seems to be plenty to go around — and there will probably still be a lot left when technology, not hurried by government mandates and subsidies but guided by market forces, produces practical and affordable renewable energy.

But for now, enjoy our cheap, abundant and efficient "fossil" fuels.

the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought...

Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it. Every concept that can ever be needed, will be expressed by exactly one word, with its meaning rigidly defined and all its subsidiary meanings rubbed out and forgotten. Already, in the Eleventh Edition, we’re not far from that point. But the process will still be continuing long after you and I are dead. Every year fewer and fewer words, and the range of consciousness always a little smaller. Even now, of course, there’s no reason or excuse for committing thoughtcrime. It’s merely a question of self-discipline, reality-control. But in the end there won’t be any need even for that. The Revolution will be complete when the language is perfect. Newspeak is Ingsoc and Ingsoc is Newspeak,’ he added with a sort of mystical satisfaction. ‘Has it ever occurred to you, Winston, that by the year 2050, at the very latest, not a single human being will be alive who could understand such a conversation as we are having now?’

~ George Orwell in 1984

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Reality Control - 1984

"To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, to believe that democracy was impossible and that the Party was the guardian of democracy, to forget, whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again, and above all, to apply the same process to the process itself—that was the ultimate subtlety: consciously to induce unconsciousness, and then, once again, to become unconscious of the act of hypnosis you had just performed. Even to understand the word "doublethink" involved the use of doublethink."
~ from George Orwell's 1984 (Speaker - Winston Smith)

Saturday, October 31, 2015

What! No smartphone...


They thought, therefore they were, and that was that..


Leibniz did publish one huge book, the Theodicy, and edited a number of other sizeable volumes which collected together documents he had transcribed from unpublished manuscripts held all across Europe. So a request for double-weighting would likely have been met with little resistance.

But of course the Ref is not all about the number and quality of outputs. How would Leibniz have fared on the other criteria – impact, and contribution to his research environment?

Pretty well for both, as is happens. Sure, he failed at the time to find an impactful use for some of his research, such as his discovery of binary arithmetic, which eventually had a huge impact when used as the basis for modern computing more than 250 years later.

But even allowing for this, the impact narratives that Leibniz could have written over the course of his career would still have been mightily impressive. After all, he rewrote the legal code for Mainz; built the first fully functional calculating machine that could do addition, subtraction, multiplication and division; advised high-ranking officials and royalty on matters of public policy; and established the Berlin Society of Sciences.

It is much trickier to assess Leibniz’s contribution to his research environment, as there wasn’t really a research environment that he could contribute to. After all, he never held an academic post, and instead spent most of his life as a court counsellor and librarian in the relatively small German town of Hanover, often complaining that there were few people there he could speak to about his scholarly pursuits.

This non-academic career path also meant that Leibniz did not supervise any PhD students to completion or undertake any external examining. He did, however, have an impressive record of grant capture, inasmuch as he was often successful in getting his employer to provide financial backing for his research projects, such as his scheme to build windmills to drain the silver mines of the Harz mountains (which cost 2270 thalers, a sum almost four times Leibniz’s annual salary at the time), and a two-year trip to visit a number of historical archives across Europe.

Ultimately, then, we can say that Leibniz probably would have thrived if the Ref had existed in his day, and in fact would have been a Ref superstar. But the irony, of course, is that he (and all of the other great philosophers) managed to achieve all that he did without the incentive provided by the Ref.

Source

Friday, October 30, 2015

Computers Alive? by Hoyt W. Huggins

Do computers facilitate, or do they control? How would you answer if you thought the computers were coming to life? Ponder the madness of computer intelligence in control of our vast network of communications, logistics, and weapon systems. Science fiction nonsense? But surely history is replete with science fiction "told-you-so's." Moreover, there have been hundreds of non-fiction works published over the past 20 years which seriously declare that computer consciousness is not only possible but likely.

With the possible exceptions of IBM and AT&T, the U.S. Air Force stands out like no other organization in its image of vast modern technology packed full of computers. Surely we should be the last to be unclear on this matter of machine intelligence--even for a discussion over a Friday beer at the club.

In hopes the reader will finish with at least a more comfortable answer to the first question, let us apply a cool but decidedly unmechanical approach to the issue.

One of the oldest computer jokes around tells of the latest IBM creation being fed the entire works of Saint Thomas Aquinas and then being asked, "Is there a God?" After a few tense seconds, a printout appears with the words, "There is now."

Despite its antiquity, this story serves well to keynote the eerie feelings that grip some of us as we learn of the amazing capabilities of today's computers. Moreover, the apprehension goes back further than the joke.

In the last century, English author Samuel Butler wrote "The Destruction of the Machines of Erewhon," foreshadowing serious consideration of machine life by many later experts. For most of us, this kind of speculation vaguely agitates our common sense, but few of us do more than shrug it off, and some of us believe it might actually be possible. As with many other subjects, we have become victims of our dependence on the "explanations" of the experts instead of masters of our own analyzing abilities.

This time, let's respond to our common sense, consult known scientific knowledge, examine the data, and get at the truth. We can begin by reviewing Butler's forebodings.

Butler feared that man would continue to evolve machines of increasing propensity for becoming living species. In fact, he wondered if they were already conscious, patiently plotting their evolutionary perfection and eventual domination of the world. If not, he was sure that one day man would produce a mutant having consciousness and independence. Moreover, he implied that the machine's consciousness would spring into being--like Pallas Athena, fully panoplied--with a value system underpinned by self- survival. You see, Butler's machines would just naturally view man as both enemy and servant: a threat to survival, yet essential to it. The machines would therefore ruthlessly conquer and mercilessly control mankind, that is, unless the hapless victims acted quickly to destroy all machines.

Butler quite obviously did not understand the concept consciousness. Just as obviously, he did not understand the conceptualization process required for extending the primitive survival instinct to the abstraction threat. Let us deal first with the latter.

Read more....

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Why "Sacrifice" Means Loss, Not Gain, by Craig Biddle

"If we want our concepts and definitions to serve their proper purpose, which is to mentally unite essentially similar things and differentiate them from essentially different things, then we have to define words correctly....

"Actions intended to result in a net loss, or those that result in such a loss due to lack of forethought or effort, are essentially different from those intended to result in a net gain. Properly formed concepts and definitions account for these differences. 'Sacrifice,' 'forfeit,' and the like refer to actions that render a net loss; 'trade,' 'profit,' and the like refer to those that render a net gain."

Monday, October 26, 2015

Could you kill baby Hitler?

Given certain assumptions, this isn't a hard question. Assume that going back in time merely eliminates Hitler, and that the sole effect of that is that the Nazi Party lacks a charismatic leader and never takes power in Germany, and World War II and the Holocaust are averted, and nothing worse than World War II transpires in this alternate reality, and there are no unintended negative consequences of time travel. Then the question is reduced to, "Is it ethical to kill one person to save 40-plus million people?" That's pretty easy. You don't have to be a die-hard utilitarian to think one baby is an acceptable price to pay to save tens of millions of lives.

But, of course, those assumptions are strong. Too strong. Here are just a few of the issues you'd need to sort out before even starting to intelligently consider whether killing baby Hitler would be wise.

Read more...

Why Nietzsche had to part company with the only other creative genius he had over known ...

From an early age Nietzsche was passionately fond of music, and by the time he was a student he was a highly competent pianist who impressed his peers by his ability to improvise.  In the 1860s Wagner’s star was rising.  He began receiving the support of King Ludwig II of Bavaria in 1864; Tristan and Isolde had been given its premiere in 1865, The Meistersingers was premiered in 1868, Das Rheingold in 1869, and Die Walk├╝re in 1870.  Although opportunities to see operas performed were limited, both because of location and finances, Nietzsche and his student friends had obtained a piano score of Tristan and were great admirers of what they considered the “music of the future.”

Nietzsche and Wagner became close after Nietzsche began visiting Wagner, his wife Cosmia, and their children at Tribschen, a beautiful house beside Lake Lucerne, about a two hour train ride from Basle where Nietzsche was a professor of classical philology.  In their outlook on life and music they were both heavily influenced by Schopenhauer.  Schopenhauer viewed life as essentially tragic, stressed the value of the arts in helping human beings cope with the miseries of existence, and accorded pride of place to music as the purest expression of the ceaselessly striving Will that underlay the world of appearances and constituted the inner essence of the world.

Wagner had written extensively about music and culture in general, and Nietzsche shared his enthusiasm for trying to revitalize culture through new forms of art.  In his first published work, The Birth of Tragedy (1872), Nietzsche argued that Greek tragedy emerged “out of the spirit of music,” fueled by a dark, irrational “Dionysian” impulse which, when harnessed by “Apollonian” principles of order, eventually gave rise to the great tragedies of poets like Aeschylus and Sophocles.  But then the rationalist tendency evident in the plays Euripides, and most of all in the philosophical approach of Socrates, came to dominate, thereby killing the creative impulse behind Greek tragedy.

Read more...

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Governments cannot dictate either discovery or invention...

To most people, the argument for public funding of science rests on a list of the discoveries made with public funds, from the Internet (defense science in the U.S.) to the Higgs boson (particle physics at CERN in Switzerland). But that is highly misleading. Given that government has funded science munificently from its huge tax take, it would be odd if it had not found out something. This tells us nothing about what would have been discovered by alternative funding arrangements.

And we can never know what discoveries were not made because government funding crowded out philanthropic and commercial funding, which might have had different priorities. In such an alternative world, it is highly unlikely that the great questions about life, the universe and the mind would have been neglected in favor of, say, how to clone rich people’s pets.

The perpetual-innovation machine that feeds economic growth and generates prosperity is not the result of deliberate policy at all, except in a negative sense. Governments cannot dictate either discovery or invention; they can only make sure that they don’t hinder it. Innovation emerges unbidden from the way that human beings freely interact if allowed. Deep scientific insights are the fruits that fall from the tree of technological change.

Read More...

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Archvillain Ellsworth Toohey’s growth from childhood up to adulthood..

"Ellsworth Monkton Toohey was seven years old when he turned the hose upon Johnny Stokes, as Johnny was passing by the Toohey lawn, dressed in his best Sunday suit. Johnny had waited for that suit a year and a half, his mother being very poor. Ellsworth did not sneak or hide, but committed his act openly, with systematic deliberation: he walked to the tap, turned it on, stood in the middle of the lawn and directed the hose at Johnny, his aim faultless – with Johnny’s mother just a few steps behind him down the street, with his mother and father and the visiting minister in full view on the Toohey porch. Johnny stokes was a bright kid with dimples and golden curls; people always turned to look at Johnny Stokes. Nobody had ever turned to look at Ellsworth Toohey." ~ From Ayn Rand's Fountainhead 

The man who builds a factory builds a temple... Coolidge

“The man who builds a factory builds a temple, . . . the man who works there worships there, and to each is due, not scorn and blame, but reverence and praise.” ~ Calvin Coolidge

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Question with boldness even the existence of a God - Jefferson

"Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear. . . . Do not be frightened from this inquiry by any fear of its consequences. If it ends in a belief that there is no God, you will find inducements to virtue in the comfort and pleasantness you feel in its exercise, and the love of others which it will procure you." ~ Thomas Jefferson's letter to nephew Peter Carr, written from Paris, Aug. 10, 1787

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Thomas Paine - Reflection on Titles

When I reflect on the pompous titles bestowed on unworthy men, I feel an indignity that instructs me to despise the absurdity. The Honorable plunderer of his country, or the Right Honorable murderer of mankind, create such a contrast of ideas as exhibit a monster rather than a man. Virtue is inflamed at the violation, and sober reason calls it nonsense.

Dignities and high sounding names have different effects on different beholders. The lustre of the Star and the title of My Lord, over-awe the superstitious vulgar, and forbid them to inquire into the character of the possessor: Nay more, they are, as it were, bewitched to admire in the great, the vices they would honestly condemn in themselves. This sacrifice of common sense is the certain badge which distinguishes slavery from freedom; for when men yield up the privilege of thinking, the last shadow of liberty quits the horizon.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Now that's the system, Mr. Reardon, that's the game

“Did you really think we want those laws observed?" said Dr. Ferris. "We want them to be broken. You'd better get it straight that it's not a bunch of boy scouts you're up against... We're after power and we mean it... There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What's there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced or objectively interpreted – and you create a nation of law-breakers – and then you cash in on guilt. Now that's the system, Mr. Reardon, that's the game, and once you understand it, you'll be much easier to deal with.” ~from Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Only let us hurry and open the roads

"Scarcely ten years ago, all hope of flying had almost been abandoned; even the most convinced had become doubtful, and I confess that, in 1901, I said to my brother Orville that men would not fly for fifty years. Two years later, we ourselves were making flights. This demonstration of my inability as a prophet gave me such a shock that I have ever since distrusted myself and have refrained from all prediction–as my friends of the press, especially, well know. But it is not really necessary to look too far into the future; we see enough already to be certain that it will be magnificent. Only let us hurry and open the roads." ~ Wilbur Wright, quoted in The Wright Brothers by David McCullough

On Oscar Wilde

Published posthumously in 1905, De Profundis is an angry manifesto which details the greed of Douglas, his vicious slights and most of all, his ingratitude. “While you were with me,” writes Wilde, “you were the absolute ruin of my art.” The relationship – which as Wilde stresses throughout he repeatedly attempted to end – drained him emotionally, artistically and financially. Wilde’s tone is formal and dramatic. Written, a page a day, on prison notepaper, the letter looks beyond a destructive affair, and reveals Wilde reaching an understanding about life, his response to it and his awareness of the time and gifts he had wasted. He was aware, and history agrees, that he could have achieved far more had he lived longer. His heartfelt letter also serves as a metaphysical meditation about the role of the artist.

“I was a man who stood in symbolic relations to the art and culture of my age... Few men hold such a position in their own lifetime, and have it so acknowledged. It is usually discerned, if discerned at all, by the historian, or the critic, long after both the man and his age have passed away. With me it was different. I felt it myself, and made others feel it…The gods had given me almost everything. I had genius, a distinguished name, high social position, brilliancy, intellectual daring; I made art a philosophy and philosophy an art; I altered the minds of men and the colours of things… to truth itself I gave what is false no less than what is true as its rightful province, and showed that the false and the true are merely forms of intellectual existence. I treated art as the supreme reality and life as a mere mode of fiction.”

Read more...

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Montesquieu on power of reason

"In a free society, it is not always important that individuals reason well, it is sufficient that they reason; from their individual thought, freedom is born." ~ Montesquieu

Plato’s Allegory of the Cave - Alex Gendler

Friday, October 16, 2015

Ayn Rand - Happiness is the Reward of Virtue

"Achievement of your happiness is the only moral purpose of your life, and that happiness, not pain or mindless self-indulgence, is the proof of your moral integrity, since it is the proof and the result of your loyalty to the achievement of your values." ~ Ayn Rand

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Orwell on why he wrote 1984

In 1944, three years before writing and five years before publishing 1984, George Orwell penned a letter detailing the thesis of his great novel. The letter, warning of the rise of totalitarian police states that will ‘say that two and two are five,’ is reprinted from George Orwell: A Life in Letters, edited by Peter Davison and published today by Liveright. Plus, Orwell's advice to Arthur Koestler on how to review books.




To Noel Willmett

18 May 1944
10a Mortimer Crescent NW 6

Dear Mr Willmett,

Many thanks for your letter. You ask whether totalitarianism, leader-worship etc. are really on the up-grade and instance the fact that they are not apparently growing in this country and the USA.

I must say I believe, or fear, that taking the world as a whole these things are on the increase. Hitler, no doubt, will soon disappear, but only at the expense of strengthening (a) Stalin, (b) the Anglo-American millionaires and (c) all sorts of petty fuhrers° of the type of de Gaulle. All the national movements everywhere, even those that originate in resistance to German domination, seem to take non-democratic forms, to group themselves round some superhuman fuhrer (Hitler, Stalin, Salazar, Franco, Gandhi, De Valera are all varying examples) and to adopt the theory that the end justifies the means. Everywhere the world movement seems to be in the direction of centralised economies which can be made to ‘work’ in an economic sense but which are not democratically organised and which tend to establish a caste system. With this go the horrors of emotional nationalism and a tendency to disbelieve in the existence of objective truth because all the facts have to fit in with the words and prophecies of some infallible fuhrer. Already history has in a sense ceased to exist, ie. there is no such thing as a history of our own times which could be universally accepted, and the exact sciences are endangered as soon as military necessity ceases to keep people up to the mark. Hitler can say that the Jews started the war, and if he survives that will become official history. He can’t say that two and two are five, because for the purposes of, say, ballistics they have to make four. But if the sort of world that I am afraid of arrives, a world of two or three great superstates which are unable to conquer one another, two and two could become five if the fuhrer wished it.1 That, so far as I can see, is the direction in which we are actually moving, though, of course, the process is reversible.

As to the comparative immunity of Britain and the USA. Whatever the pacifists etc. may say, we have not gone totalitarian yet and this is a very hopeful symptom. I believe very deeply, as I explained in my book The Lion and the Unicorn, in the English people and in their capacity to centralise their economy without destroying freedom in doing so. But one must remember that Britain and the USA haven’t been really tried, they haven’t known defeat or severe suffering, and there are some bad symptoms to balance the good ones. To begin with there is the general indifference to the decay of democracy. Do you realise, for instance, that no one in England under 26 now has a vote and that so far as one can see the great mass of people of that age don’t give a damn for this? Secondly there is the fact that the intellectuals are more totalitarian in outlook than the common people. On the whole the English intelligentsia have opposed Hitler, but only at the price of accepting Stalin. Most of them are perfectly ready for dictatorial methods, secret police, systematic falsification of history2 etc. so long as they feel that it is on ‘our’ side. Indeed the statement that we haven’t a Fascist movement in England largely means that the young, at this moment, look for their fuhrer elsewhere. One can’t be sure that that won’t change, nor can one be sure that the common people won’t think ten years hence as the intellectuals do now. I hope 3 they won’t, I even trust they won’t, but if so it will be at the cost of a struggle. If one simply proclaims that all is for the best and doesn’t point to the sinister symptoms, one is merely helping to bring totalitarianism nearer.

You also ask, if I think the world tendency is towards Fascism, why do I support the war. It is a choice of evils—I fancy nearly every war is that. I know enough of British imperialism not to like it, but I would support it against Nazism or Japanese imperialism, as the lesser evil. Similarly I would support the USSR against Germany because I think the USSR cannot altogether escape its past and retains enough of the original ideas of the Revolution to make it a more hopeful phenomenon than Nazi Germany. I think, and have thought ever since the war began, in 1936 or thereabouts, that our cause is the better, but we have to keep on making it the better, which involves constant criticism.

Yours sincerely,
Geo. Orwell

Source

PHILOSOPHY - Religion: Classical Theism 3 (God's Omnipotence)

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

George Orwell on "primitive patriotism"

"Heavy physical work, the care of home and children, petty quarrels with neighbours, films, football, beer, and above all, gambling, filled up the horizon of their minds. To keep them in control was not difficult. A few agents of the Thought Police moved always among them, spreading false rumours and marking down and eliminating the few individuals who were judged capable of becoming dangerous; but no attempt was made to indoctrinate them with the ideology of the Party. It was not desirable that the proles should have strong political feelings. All that was required of them was a primitive patriotism which could be appealed to whenever it was necessary to make them accept longer working-hours or shorter rations. And even when they became discontented, as they sometimes did, their discontent led nowhere, because being without general ideas, they could only focus it on petty specific grievances. The larger evils invariably escaped their notice." ~ from George Orwell's 1984 

Anaxagoras - Philosophy Introduction



AN INTRODUCTION to Anaxagoras, the somewhat forgettable Pre-Socratic philosopher.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

When philosophy takes the wheel - The Dilemma of Teaching Ethics to Self-Driving Cars

For self-driving cars, this has been recast as the "tunnel problem." Imagine that an autonomous vehicle is traveling on a single-lane mountain road and about to enter a tunnel, when a child inadvertently crosses into its path just inside the entrance so that the car has to make a split-second decision. Does it continue straight and hit the child? Or does it swerve and hit the tunnel, injuring or killing the car's occupants?

The day after getting a ride in Google's self-driving car in Mountain View, California, I attended an event at Mercedes-Benz's North American R&D facility in nearby Sunnyvale. Among several topics covered throughout the day, Stanford professor and head of the university's Revs program Chris Gerdes gave a presentation that delved into the subject of ethics and autonomous cars.

Gerdes revealed that Revs has been collaborating with Stanford's philosophy department on ethical issues involving autonomous vehicles, while the university has also started running a series of tests to determine what kind of decisions a robotic car may make in critical situations.

The Dilemma of Teaching Ethics to Self-Driving Cars

Be a postmodernist at your own risk...