Thursday, June 20, 2013

Useful notes on Objectivism*

*From: TVtropes          

A philosophy inseparably connected to the name of its creator (and namer), Russian-American writer Ayn Rand.
Plato divided philosophy into four primary branches; Metaphysics, Epistemology, Ethics and Politics. Objectivism has positions in each of these areas:


Metaphysics is the study of existence (also known as Ontology) as well as the basic 'substances' which make it up (also known as Cosmology). Rand argued, following Aristotle, that Ontology was the proper area of Metaphysics and that Cosmology should be reserved for the physical sciences. Thus, Objectivist metaphysics is confined to an Ontology.
What is Ontology? Ontology is the study of what it means to exist. This is probably the most mind screwy it gets, because 'that which exists' is a broad category. However, the basic questions of Ontology can be summarized as follows: Is there something? and If there is something, does it exist independently of my consciousness?
When you were a child and you thought that by closing your eyes, you could make something you dislike go away - well, that was your younger self hoping that the thing you didn't like existed in a way that depended on your consciousness.
Objectivism argues that: 1) There is something. 2) That it exists independently of your consciousness and you can't simply think it into non-existence. Philip K. Dick, no Objectivist himself, nevertheless articulated a definition of reality that many Objectivists can agree with: "Reality is that which, if you stop believing in it, does not go away."
You may ask "how can I know this? How can you know this? How can Ayn Rand know this?" The problem with asking that, according to Objectivists, is in order to know something, that something must exist in the first place.
Objectivist metaphysics thus stiplulates three axioms, i.e. undeniable, irreducible facts, describe how reality works:
  1. Existence exists (there is something)
  2. Every thing that exists has a specific nature or identity ('A is A' or 'a thing is what it is'). A thing must be something, otherwise it is nothing.
  3. You exist, and you exist possessing consciousness, which is the faculty of perceiving that which exists.

The theory suggests that these facts are "undeniable" because to deny them requires them to be true. If you deny that existence exists, you have to exist (because only entities can perform an action like denying something). Additionally, this denial assumes you have a consciousness which allows you to think and perceive and process more here.

Kant & Subjectivism

Kant's subjectivist philosophy*

"On the contrary, Subjectivism is the antithesis to Objectivism. Subjectivism was effectively established -but not explicitly stated- by German philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1804). One of Subjectivism’s central tenets is that external reality is completely dependent on the internal reality of the perceiver; that reality as an individual perceives it (or in extreme cases as a collective perceives it) is a construct of the desires of the perceiver, or whims, wishes, hopes, or fears. 

Subjectivism holds that the universe is not absolute, in fact it asserts that no absolutes exist whatsoever- which is a contradiction, and contradictions do not exist- henceforth Objectivism is right because its tenets/axioms do not contradict themselves. “Subjectivists believe that feelings are the creator of facts, and therefore a man’s (collective in some cases) primary tool of cognition. If men feel it, declares the subjectivist, that makes it so,” a famous critique by Ayn Rand."

*Quote from William Nauenburg at Opinion

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Cui bono?

Why are Toronto’s young black kids participating in gun violence? On the surface it is a perplexing problem that seems to defy a rational answer. But at its root, as always, there is one culprit that will foil any “symptom based” plan to end this unwelcome tragedy.  The Filthy Lucre obtained by reaping the profits of a false economy is the stimulus for extreme gang violence.  It is the “illegal” drug trade that is without a doubt the greatest contributor to urban violence in our country.
Because the Nanny State sees itself as the guardian of morality, having usurped the church, it feels compelled to regulate every aspect of choice within society. It is a self-perpetuating system that creates infrastructure to deal with alleged social ills, thereby legitimizing and expanding them into demand for further regulation.  Without the power of the modern Nanny State the Law of “Unintended Consequences” would serve as a lesson in corrective reform.  By creating powerful vested interests the state is unable to take curative measures without being accosted by a wave emotional propaganda designed to enforce the maintenance of ever expanding bureaucracy.
With almost existential inevitability the Nanny State will decree what is in the best interest of its population.  The most devastating instrument for state enforcement of morality is to prohibit a product or service that is desired by a segment of society.  Prohibition creates a market vacuum that can only be exploited by criminal activity.  Rather than focusing on liability for damages the state uses the law to shield the market from legitimate competition with the result of ludicrously high prices and profits.
Being much more resourceful than the state gives them credit many people will seek to supply the demand for prohibited goods or services. They will create the organization that is necessary to operate within an illegal environment.  Since the state has withdrawn the protection of law and order, these organizations will defend their market share from rivals with violence.  By following a policy of Prohibition the state has created a positive risk/reward incentive for many people who desire a fast-track to riches.
The prohibited activity becomes the focus of state expenditure which then creates a vested interest that is determined to expand its funding. Cui bono! All of this leads back to 15 year old kids killing each other in order to compete within a street level sales organization that operates in a lawless environment.  
Prohibition enriches criminal organizations, leads to violence, creates expensive vested interests and results in the death of children.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Nothing to see here

Nothing to see here – move along – quickly now! (Responding to note below)
All of the cheerleaders for the “Idle no more” or “party on” group, such as the CBC, Toronto Star & other lefty apologists don’t want you (the tax payer) to know the facts. It appears that Sun News is the only news outlet willing to ask some of the right questions.
When “Sacred Cow” issues like the standard narrative for Climate change or Native rights are challenged by the facts many of us just don’t want to face up to reality because it doesn’t jive with our world view.
We use the standard tactic of attempting to deflect attention away from the issues at hand and hurl abuse at the proverbial straw man that everyone agrees is the enemy.  For many on the left side of the political spectrum the straw man is Sun News. They are liars (they must be I read that in a blog somewhere) or they are in the pay of big oil. So we can safely avoid paying any attention to the issues at hand and write off the inconvenient facts as the ravings of a lunatic.
Well, many of us from the right, centre, left and libertarians want to know the truth about how our tax dollars are being spent and what is the motivation for that spending. Basic questions should be asked in order to take rational action toward the desired outcomes.
These issues start right at the basic principles we use to govern our morality:

1)   In our society whose interests predominate? The individuals or the guilds (elites)?

2)   Is it moral to perpetuate unsustainable communes based on race with tax dollars?

3)   Are racially based contracts even constitutional in the 21st century?

4)   Are we encouraging an elitist criminal culture with our paternalistic welfare?

5)   Are native people being used as tools to achieve political agendas?

Let’s address the real issues at hand and avoid the use of Red Herrings to deflect attention away from them.  And yes we can take arguments seriously, even from the CBC or Sun News. It requires only that we take responsibility for our own interpretations and defend them rationally.

All that said, it is certainly strange that the Attawapiskat First Nation seems to have been running a multi million dollar surplus for the past two years.
The financial statements are here btw:
Hardly 'investigative journalism' though. 
Ezra could have put all his 'reports' together from his bedroom. He even admits the networks rep. as a tabloid. 
It's pretty insulting of him to sweep aside the efforts of the many canadians involved in the Idle No More and Occupy movements as goalless stunts organized for attention by some mysteriously rich circle of radical liberals. An interview or two would be welcome as well. Just a poor excuse for real journalism. 
Overall, not worth listening to. 
But that's just my opinion.

On January 14, 2013 5:44:48 PM PST, gregory burton wrote:
Can we really consider seriously any arguments presented on Sun News?
I mean come on, If a branch of the CBC printed a line of tabloid papers would we still trust the integrity of their reports?
Sun news was created because Quebecor thought Canadian viewers were getting bored and switching to American news channels. 
Bored. Not suspicious.
Canadian News channels maybe haven't been the most exciting in history, but they've generally done a decent job at being honest and well rounded, and have garnered a reputation for being networks that report facts. 
Not so with Fox News, the American template for the Sun News Network. Their shifty antics and reputation for mis-reporting are well known and documented by many, and most are at least aware. These people make entertainment news. It's their mission statement. They sell 'hard news' and 'edgy opinions' to a market demographic of bored citizens. They've said it themselves quite plainly if we care to listen.
(one example of an independent online magazine doing simple, straight reporting.)
Up until now I haven't needed my news, or my world for that matter, to be more exciting or edgy than it already is. The likes of Rick Mercer and John Stewart are about as much 'opinion' reporting as I can stand, and that, because at least they acknowledge the joke.
I'll stick with the CBC until pressure forces them through the same hoop. And after that, I'd rather make a few well-considered phone calls and emails to folks who are involved or who know people who are involved (which I'm sure we all do if we think hard enough) to get some firsthand info. than listen to explicitly 'less politically correct' and 'unapologetically patriotic' entertainment news.
From where I stand these issues are much more important for us to be thinking about than anything Ezra Levant has to say about a very old and very delicate issue in Canadian society and politics.
Keep your heads up, and much love